Genetic manipulation of the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is straightforward. Nuclear genes can be interrupted by insertional mutagenesis or targeted by RNA interference whereas random or site-directed mutagenesis allows the introduction of mutations in the mitochondrial genome. This, combined with a screen that easily allows discriminating respiratory-deficient mutants, makes Chlamydomonas a model system of choice to study mitochondria biology in photosynthetic organisms. Since the first description of Chlamydomonas respiratory-deficient mutants in 1977 by random mutagenesis, many other mutants affected in mitochondrial components have been characterized. These respiratory-deficient mutants increased our knowledge on function and assembly of the respiratory enzyme complexes. More recently some of these mutants allowed the study of mitochondrial gene expression processes poorly understood in Chlamydomonas. In this review, we update the data concerning the respiratory components with a special focus on the assembly factors identified on other organisms. In addition, we make an inventory of different mitochondrial respiratory mutants that are inactivated either on mitochondrial or nuclear genes.
Keywords: Chlamydomonas; Mitochondria; Respiratory chain; Respiratory-deficient mutants.
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