Selections that isolate recombinant mitochondrial genomes in animals

Elife. 2015 Aug 3:4:e07247. doi: 10.7554/eLife.07247.


Homologous recombination is widespread and catalyzes evolution. Nonetheless, its existence in animal mitochondrial DNA is questioned. We designed selections for recombination between co-resident mitochondrial genomes in various heteroplasmic Drosophila lines. In four experimental settings, recombinant genomes became the sole or dominant genome in the progeny. Thus, selection uncovers occurrence of homologous recombination in Drosophila mtDNA and documents its functional benefit. Double-strand breaks enhanced recombination in the germline and revealed somatic recombination. When the recombination partner was a diverged Drosophila melanogaster genome or a genome from a different species such as Drosophila yakuba, sequencing revealed long continuous stretches of exchange. In addition, the distribution of sequence polymorphisms in recombinants allowed us to map a selected trait to a particular region in the Drosophila mitochondrial genome. Thus, recombination can be harnessed to dissect function and evolution of mitochondrial genome.

Keywords: D. melanogaster; cell biology; evolutionary biology; genomics; homologous recombination; mitochondrial DNA; selection for recombinant genomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / chemistry
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Genome, Mitochondrial*
  • Homologous Recombination*
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Mitochondrial