Gene transfer: anything goes in plant mitochondria
1 Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Program in Integrated Microbial Biodiversity, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 1X5, Canada
2 Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum London, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK
BMC Biology 2010, 8:147 doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-147Published: 22 December 2010
Parasitic plants and their hosts have proven remarkably adept at exchanging fragments of mitochondrial DNA. Two recent studies provide important mechanistic insights into the pattern, process and consequences of horizontal gene transfer, demonstrating that genes can be transferred in large chunks and that gene conversion between foreign and native genes leads to intragenic mosaicism. A model involving duplicative horizontal gene transfer and differential gene conversion is proposed as a hitherto unrecognized source of genetic diversity.