Intronic and plasmid-derived regions contribute to the large mitochondrial genome sizes of Agaricomycetes

Curr Genet. 2014 Nov;60(4):303-13. doi: 10.1007/s00294-014-0436-z. Epub 2014 Jul 11.


Sizes of mitochondrial genomes vary extensively between fungal species although they typically contain a conserved set of core genes. We have characterised the mitochondrial genome of the conifer root rot pathogen Heterobasidion irregulare and compared the size, gene content and structure of 20 Basidiomycete mitochondrial genomes. The mitochondrial genome of H. irregulare was 114, 193 bp and contained a core set of 15 protein coding genes, two rRNA genes and 26 tRNA genes. In addition, we found six non-conserved open reading frames (ORFs) and four putative plasmid genes clustered in three separate regions together with 24 introns and 14 intronic homing endonuclease genes, unequally spread across seven of the core genes. The size differences among the 20 Basidiomycetes can largely be explained by length variation of intergenic regions and introns. The Agaricomycetes contained the nine largest mitochondrial genomes in the Basidiomycete group and Agaricomycete genomes are significantly (p < 0.001) larger than the other Basidiomycetes. A feature of the Agaricomycete mitochondrial genomes in this study was the simultaneous occurrence of putative plasmid genes and non-conserved ORFs, with Cantharellus cibarius as only exception, where no non-conserved ORF was identified. This indicates a mitochondrial plasmid origin of the non-conserved ORFs or increased mitochondrial genome dynamics of species harbouring mitochondrial plasmids. We hypothesise that two independent factors are the driving forces for large mitochondrial genomes: the homing endonuclease genes in introns and integration of plasmid DNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Basidiomycota / genetics*
  • Genome, Fungal / genetics*
  • Genome, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Introns / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Open Reading Frames / genetics
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KF957635