Current Genetics

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 365–387 | Cite as

Reductive evolution of chloroplasts in non-photosynthetic plants, algae and protists

  • Lucia Hadariová
  • Matej Vesteg
  • Vladimír Hampl
  • Juraj Krajčovič
Review

Abstract

Chloroplasts are generally known as eukaryotic organelles whose main function is photosynthesis. They perform other functions, however, such as synthesizing isoprenoids, fatty acids, heme, iron sulphur clusters and other essential compounds. In non-photosynthetic lineages that possess plastids, the chloroplast genomes have been reduced and most (or all) photosynthetic genes have been lost. Consequently, non-photosynthetic plastids have also been reduced structurally. Some of these non-photosynthetic or “cryptic” plastids were overlooked or unrecognized for decades. The number of complete plastid genome sequences and/or transcriptomes from non-photosynthetic taxa possessing plastids is rapidly increasing, thus allowing prediction of the functions of non-photosynthetic plastids in various eukaryotic lineages. In some non-photosynthetic eukaryotes with photosynthetic ancestors, no traces of plastid genomes or of plastids have been found, suggesting that they have lost the genomes or plastids completely. This review summarizes current knowledge of non-photosynthetic plastids, their genomes, structures and potential functions in free-living and parasitic plants, algae and protists. We introduce a model for the order of plastid gene losses which combines models proposed earlier for land plants with the patterns of gene retention and loss observed in protists. The rare cases of plastid genome loss and complete plastid loss are also discussed.

Keywords

Non-photosynthetic plastids Plastid genome Plastid loss Essential metabolic pathways Parasitism 

Abbreviations

EGT

Endosymbiotic gene transfer

TOC

Translocon of outer chloroplast membrane

TIC

Translocon of inner chloroplast membrane

Glu-tRNA

Glutamyl-tRNA

acetyl-CoA

Acetyl co-enzyme A

ACC

Acetyl-CoA carboxylase

IR

Inverted repeat

LSC

Large single copy

SSC

Small single copy

fMet-tRNA

Formylmetionyl-tRNA

Met-tRNA

Metionyl-tRNA

DOXP

Non-mevalonate isoprenoid biosynthesis pathway

IPP

Isopentenyl pyrophosphate

FAS

Fatty acid synthesis

CoRR

Co-location for redox regulation

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Scientific Grant Agency of the Slovak Ministry of Education and the Academy of Sciences (Grant VEGA 1/0535/17), by project ITMS 26210120024 supported by the Research & Development Operational Programme funded by the ERDF, by the Czech Science foundation Project nr. 16-25280S, by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of CR within the National Sustainability Program II (Project BIOCEV-FAR) LQ1604 and by the project ‘‘BIOCEV’’ (CZ.1.05/1.1.00/02.0109). We thank Dr. Heather Esson (Laboratory of Evolutionary Protistology, Institute of Parasitology, Biology Centre CAS, České Budějovice, Czech Republic) for language revision of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

294_2017_761_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (334 kb)
Online Resource 1 Characteristics of plastid genomes in organisms with non-photosynthetic plastids. Plastid genome sizes – "0 bp" indicates that there is probably no plastid genome present. Gene number includes only protein-coding genes. rRNA genes, tRNA genes, pseudogenes and orfs are not included. Number of photosynthetic genes comprises psa, psb, pet and rbcL genes. IRs (inverted repeats) –"Yes" indicates presence, "No" indicates absence, "Cryptic" indicates the possibility of IRs existence, "Secondary" indicates that original IRs have been lost and new ones have arisen secondarily. A question mark indicates the lack of data (PDF 334 KB)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucia Hadariová
    • 1
  • Matej Vesteg
    • 2
  • Vladimír Hampl
    • 1
  • Juraj Krajčovič
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Parasitology, Faculty of ScienceCharles UniversityPragueCzechia
  2. 2.Department of Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Natural SciencesMatej Bel UniversityBanská BystricaSlovakia
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Faculty of Natural SciencesUniversity of ss. Cyril and MethodiusTrnavaSlovakia

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