Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 67, No. 1 pp. 435–444, 2016


© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.


Cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) has consistently been associated with the expression of mitochondrial open reading frames (ORFs) that arise from genomic rearrangements. Spontaneous fertility reversion in CMS has been observed in several cases, but a clear understanding of fertility reversion controlled by nuclear genetic influences has been lacking. Here, we identified spontaneous fertile revertant lines for Brassica juncea CMS cytoplasm in which the mitochondrial genome has undergone substoichiometric shifting (SSS) to suppress ORF220 copy number. We placed ORF220, with or without a mitochondrial targeting presequence, under the control of the CaMV35S and AP3 promoters in Arabidopsis to confirm that ORF220 causes male sterility when mitochondrially localized. We found that copy number of the ORF220 gene was altered under conditions that suppress MSH1, a nuclear gene that controls illegitimate recombination in plant mitochondria. MSH1-RNAi lines with increased ORF220 copy number were male sterile compared with wild type. We found that a wide range of genes involved in anther development were up- and down-regulated in revertant and MSH1-RNAi lines, respectively. The system that we have developed offers valuable future insight into the interplay of MSH1 and SSS in CMS induction and fertility reversion as a mediator of nuclear– mitochondrial crosstalk.