Fungal mitochondrial genomes and genetic polymorphisms
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Mitochondria are the powerhouses of eukaryotic cells, responsible for ATP generation and playing a role in a diversity of cellular and organismal functions. Different from the majority of other intracellular membrane structures, mitochondria contain their own genetic materials that are capable of independent replication and inheritance. In this mini-review, we provide brief summaries of fungal mitochondrial genome structure, size, gene content, inheritance, and genetic variation. We pay special attention to the relative genetic polymorphisms of the mitochondrial vs nuclear genomes at the population level within individual fungal species. Among the 20 species/groups of species reviewed here, there is a range of variation among genes and species in the relative nuclear and mitochondrial genetic polymorphisms. Interestingly, most (15/20) showed a greater genetic diversity for nuclear genes and genomes than for mitochondrial genes and genomes, with the remaining five showing similar or slower nuclear genome genetic variations. This fungal pattern is different from the dominant pattern in animals, but more similar to that in plants. At present, the mechanisms for the variations among fungal species and the overall low level of mitochondrial sequence polymorphisms are not known. The increasing availability of population genomic data should help us reveal the potential genetic and ecological factors responsible for the observed variations.
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