Reducing the genome size of organelles favours gene transfer to the nucleus

Trends Ecol Evol. 2001 Mar 1;16(3):135-141. doi: 10.1016/s0169-5347(00)02084-x.


Endosymbiotic organelles exhibit strong genetic erosion during their evolution as a result of the loss of unnecessary genes and of gene transfer to the nucleus. The reasons for this erosion are much debated. Unidirectionality of DNA exchange between cell compartments could favour biased gene transfer, but selection might also act to favour nuclear localization of genes, for example, because organelles accumulate more mutations than do nuclei. Selection for rapid replication might be a general cause of organelle genome reduction. This selection also accounts for the compactness of organelle genomes.