The foundation of extranuclear inheritance: plastid and mitochondrial genetics


In 1909 two papers by Correns and by Baur published in volume 1 of Zeitschrift für induktive Abstammungs- und Vererbungslehre (now Molecular Genetics and Genomics) reported on the non-Mendelian inheritance of chlorophyll deficiencies. These papers, reporting the very first cases of extranuclear inheritance, laid the foundation for a new field: non-Mendelian or extranuclear genetics. Correns observed a purely maternal inheritance (in Mirabilis), whereas Baur found a biparental inheritance (in Pelargonium). Correns suspected the non-Mendelian factors in the cytoplasm, while Baur believed that the plastids carry these extranuclear factors. In the following years, Baur’s hypothesis was proved to be correct. Baur subsequently developed the theory of plastid inheritance. In many genera the plastids are transmitted only uniparentally by the mother, while in a few genera there is a biparental plastid inheritance. Commonly there is random sorting of plastids during ontogenetic development. Renner and Schwemmle as well as geneticists in other countries added additional details to this theory. Pioneering studies on mitochondrial inheritance in yeast started in 1949 in the group of Ephrussi and Slonimski; respiration-deficient cells (petites in yeast, poky in Neurospora) were demonstrated to be due to mitochondrial mutations. Electron microscopical and biochemical studies (1962–1964) showed that plastids and mitochondria contain organelle-specific DNA molecules. These findings laid the molecular basis for the two branches of extranuclear inheritance: plastid and mitochondrial genetics.

DOI: 10.1007/s00438-010-0521-z

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@article{Hagemann2010TheFO, title={The foundation of extranuclear inheritance: plastid and mitochondrial genetics}, author={Rudolf Hagemann}, journal={Molecular Genetics and Genomics}, year={2010}, volume={283}, pages={199-209} }