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Mitochondria pp 267-322 | Cite as

Mitochondrial Genetics

  • Alexander Tzagoloff
Part of the Cellular Organelles book series (BLSC)

Abstract

A remarkable feature of mitochondria is their possession of an independent genetic system, now known to be necessary for the morphogenesis of a respiratory-competent organelle. This aspect of mitochondria has attracted the attention of geneticists and molecular biologists, and, as a result, much progress has been made in our understanding of this rather unique genetic system. The foundations of mitochondrial genetics were laid in the late 1940s by Ephrussi and his collaborators who discovered a mutation that abolished the capacity of yeast to grow on nonfermentable substrates such as ethanol or glycerol whose utilization depends on a functional respiratory chain. Even though such respiratory-deficient strains of yeast are capable of growing on glucose and other sugars, they form small colonies and for this reason are called “petite” mutants (Fig. 11.1). Ephrussi’s studies showed that mutations resulting in the petite phenotype are inherited in a non-Mendelian fashion, and he therefore postulated the lesions to be in an extrachromosomal or cytoplasmic element. This element was designated as the rho (ρ) factor, and hence, cytoplasmic petite mutants are also referred to as ρ mutants. Although this was not known at the time of the discovery, the ρ factor was subsequently shown to be identical to mitochondrial DNA.

Keywords

Mitochondrial Genome Cytochrome Oxidase Diploid Cell Yeast Mitochondrion Haploid Strain 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Tzagoloff
    • 1
  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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