Targeted disruption of chloroplast genes in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Mol Gen Genet. 1991 Nov;230(1-2):65-74. doi: 10.1007/BF00290652.


We have developed an efficient procedure for the disruption of Chlamydomonas chloroplast genes. Wild-type C. reinhardtii cells were bombarded with microprojectiles coated with a mixture of two plasmids, one encoding selectable, antibiotic-resistance mutations in the 16S ribosomal RNA gene and the other containing either the atpB or rbcL photosynthetic gene inactivated by an insertion of 0.48 kb of yeast DNA in the coding sequence. Antibiotic-resistant transformants were selected under conditions permissive for growth of non-photosynthetic mutants. Approximately half of these transformants were initially heteroplasmic for copies of the disrupted atpB or rbcL genes integrated into the recipient chloroplast genome but still retained photosynthetic competence. A small fraction of the transformants (1.1% for atpB; 4.3% for rbcL) were nonphotosynthetic and homoplasmic for the disrupted gene at the time they were isolated. Single cell cloning of the initially heteroplasmic transformants also yielded nonphotosynthetic segregants that were homoplasmic for the disrupted gene. Polypeptide products of the disrupted atpB and rbcL genes could not be detected using immunoblotting techniques. We believe that any nonessential Chlamydomonas chloroplast gene, such as those involved in photosynthesis, should be amenable to gene disruption by cotransformation. The method should prove useful for the introduction of site-specific mutations into chloroplast genes and flanking regulatory sequences with a view to elucidating their function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Blotting, Western
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / genetics*
  • Chloroplasts*
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • DNA, Protozoan / isolation & purification
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Phenotype
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Transformation, Genetic*


  • DNA, Protozoan
  • Protozoan Proteins