The plant mitochondrial genome is recombinogenic, with DNA exchange activity controlled to a large extent by nuclear gene products. One nuclear gene, MSH1, appears to participate in suppressing recombination in Arabidopsis at every repeated sequence ranging in size from 108 to 556 bp. Present in a wide range of plant species, these mitochondrial repeats display evidence of successful asymmetric DNA exchange in Arabidopsis when MSH1 is disrupted. Recombination frequency appears to be influenced by repeat sequence homology and size, with larger size repeats corresponding to increased DNA exchange activity. The extensive mitochondrial genomic reorganization of the msh1 mutant produced altered mitochondrial transcription patterns. Comparison of mitochondrial genomes from the Arabidopsis ecotypes C24, Col-0, and Ler suggests that MSH1 activity accounts for most or all of the polymorphisms distinguishing these genomes, producing ecotype-specific stoichiometric changes in each line. Our observations suggest that MSH1 participates in mitochondrial genome evolution by influencing the lineagespecific pattern of mitochondrial genetic variation in higher plants.
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