Comparative mitogenomics indicates respiratory competence in parasitic Viscum despite loss of complex I and extreme sequence divergence, and reveals horizontal gene transfer and remarkable variation in genome size
Four respiratory complexes and ATP-synthase represent central functional units in mitochondria. In some mitochondria and derived anaerobic organelles, a few or all of these respiratory complexes have been lost during evolution. We show that the respiratory chain of Chromera velia, a phototrophic relative of parasitic apicomplexans, lacks complexes I and III, making it a uniquely reduced aerobic mitochondrion. In Chromera, putative lactate:cytochrome c oxidoreductases are predicted to transfer electrons from lactate to cytochrome c, rendering complex III unnecessary. The mitochondrial genome of Chromera has the smallest known protein-coding capacity of all mitochondria, encoding just cox1 and cox3 on heterogeneous linear molecules. In contrast, another photosynthetic relative of apicomplexans, Vitrella brassicaformis, retains the same set of genes as apicomplexans and dinoflagellates (cox1, cox3, and cob).