Transfer of plastid DNA to the nucleus is elevated during male gametogenesis in tobacco

Plant Physiol. 2008 Sep;148(1):328-36. doi: 10.1104/pp.108.119107. Epub 2008 Jul 25.


In eukaryotes, many genes were transferred to the nucleus from prokaryotic ancestors of the cytoplasmic organelles during endosymbiotic evolution. In plants, the transfer of genetic material from the plastid (chloroplast) and mitochondrion to the nucleus is a continuing process. The cellular location of a kanamycin resistance gene tailored for nuclear expression (35SneoSTLS2) was monitored in the progeny of reciprocal crosses of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) in which, at the start of the experiments, the reporter gene was confined either to the male or the female parental plastid genome. Among 146,000 progeny from crosses where the transplastomic parent was male, 13 transposition events were identified, whereas only one atypical transposition was identified in a screen of 273,000 transplastomic ovules. In a second experiment, a transplastomic beta-glucuronidase reporter gene, tailored to be expressed only in the nucleus, showed frequent stochastic expression that was confined to the cytoplasm in the somatic cells of several plant tissues. This gene was stably transferred in two out of 98,000 seedlings derived from a male transplastomic line crossed with a female wild type. These data demonstrate relocation of plastid DNA to the nucleus in both somatic and gametophytic tissue and reveal a large elevation of the frequency of transposition in the male germline. The results suggest a new explanation for the occurrence of uniparental inheritance in eukaryotes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • DNA, Chloroplast / metabolism*
  • Gametogenesis*
  • Gene Dosage
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Glucuronidase / genetics
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Tobacco / physiology*


  • DNA, Chloroplast
  • Glucuronidase