Uniparental inheritance of cpDNA and the genetic control of sexual differentiation in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

J Plant Res. 2010 Mar;123(2):149-62. doi: 10.1007/s10265-009-0292-y.


An intriguing feature of most eukaryotes is that chloroplast (cp) and mitochondrial (mt) genomes are inherited almost exclusively from one parent. Uniparental inheritance of cp/mt genomes was long thought to be a passive outcome, based on the fact that eggs contain multiple numbers of organelles, while male gametes contribute,at best, only a few cp/mtDNA. However, the process is likely to be more dynamic because uniparental inheritance occurs in organisms that produce gametes of identical sizes (isogamous). In Chlamydomonas reinhardtii,the uniparental inheritance of cp/mt genomes is achieved by a series of mating type-controlled events that actively eliminate the mating type minus (mt-) cpDNA.The method by which Chlamydomonas selectively degrades mt- cpDNA has long fascinated researchers, and is the subject of this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / genetics*
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / metabolism
  • DNA, Chloroplast / genetics*
  • DNA, Chloroplast / metabolism
  • Extrachromosomal Inheritance*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Optical Tweezers
  • Sex Differentiation


  • DNA, Chloroplast