U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Theor Appl Genet (2012) 125:11–18; DOI 10.1007/s00122-012-1812-z


Mitochondria are organelles that have their own DNA; serve as the powerhouses of eukaryotic cells; play important roles in stress responses, programmed cell death, and ageing; and in the vast majority of eukaryotes, are maternally transmitted. Strict maternal transmission of mitochondria makes it difficult to select for better-performing mitochondria, or against deleterious mutations in the mitochondrial DNA. Cucumber is a useful plant for organellar genetics because its mitochondria are paternally transmitted and it possesses one of the largest mitochondrial genomes among all eukaryotes. Recombination among repetitive motifs in the cucumber mitochondrial DNA produces rearrangements associated with strongly mosaic (MSC) phenotypes. We previously reported nuclear control of sorting among paternally transmitted mitochondrial DNAs. The goal of this project was to map paternal sorting of mitochondria as a step towards its eventual cloning. We crossed single plants from plant introduction (PI) 401734 and Cucumis sativus var. hardwickii and produced an F2 family. A total of 425 F2 plants were genotyped for molecular markers and testcrossed as the female with MSC16. Testcross families were scored for frequencies of wild-type versus MSC progenies. Discrete segregations for percent wild-type progenies were not observed and paternal sorting of mitochondria was therefore analyzed as a quantitative trait. A major quantitative trait locus (QTL; LOD >23) was mapped between two simple sequence repeats encompassing a 459-kb region on chromosome 3. Nuclear genes previously shown to affect the prevalence of mitochondrial DNAs (MSH1, OSB1, and RECA homologs) were not located near this major QTL on chromosome 3. Sequencing of this region from PI 401734, together with improved annotation of the cucumber genome, should result in the eventual cloning of paternal sorting of mitochondria and provide insights about nuclear control of organellar-DNA sorting.