Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Bender, N. (2023). Characterization of Novel Terminal Proteins Associated with a Mitochondrial Linear Plasmid in B. Rapa. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Nicole Bender 2023.


Mitochondria in higher plant species are known for possessing interesting characteristics that make them a focus among researchers. Mitochondria are semiautonomous, containing their own DNA that is constantly rearranging and expanding. Mitochondria can also possess extrachromosomal DNA such as plasmids that are linear or circular. One such linear plasmid is found in Brassica rapa, wild mustard, which has many unique features, some of which are similar to those seen in adenoviruses. The mitochondrial linear plasmid found in B. rapa is large, contains six open reading frames (ORFs), terminal inverted repeats (TIRs), proteins covalently bound to the 5’ termini of the double-stranded DNA, has the ability to translocate from the cytoplasm to the mitochondria, and can be transmitted paternally through mature pollen. The objective of this project is to capture and characterize the 5’ terminal proteins associated with the Torch plasmid and to understand and harness its unique properties. The dual localization of the plasmid provides a possible opportunity for transformation of the mitochondria, a task that has yet to be accomplished because of the instability of the mitochondrial genome but would be impactful in plant molecular biology and biochemistry research. Transforming plant mitochondria would greatly affect metabolism in plants, aid in counteracting metabolic diseases, and would provide insight for the transformation of human mitochondria.