Mitochondrial and plastid evolution in eukaryotes: an outsiders' perspective

Nat Rev Genet. 2009 Jul;10(7):495-505. doi: 10.1038/nrg2610.


The eukaryotic organelles mitochondrion and plastid originated from eubacterial endosymbionts. Here we propose that, in both cases, prokaryote-to-organelle conversion was driven by the internalization of host-encoded factors progressing from the outer membrane of the endosymbionts towards the intermembrane space, inner membrane and finally the organelle interior. This was made possible by an outside-to-inside establishment in the endosymbionts of host-controlled protein-sorting components, which enabled the gradual integration of organelle functions into the nuclear genome. Such a convergent trajectory for mitochondrion and plastid establishment suggests a novel paradigm for organelle evolution that affects theories of eukaryogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Humans
  • Plants
  • Plastids / physiology*
  • Protein Transport / physiology