Frequent, geographically structured heteroplasmy in the mitochondria of a flowering plant, ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

Nick Levsen, R Bergero, Deborah Charlesworth, Kirsten Wolff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has convincingly documented cases of mitochondrial heteroplasmy in a small set of wild and cultivated plant species. Heteroplasmy is suspected to be common in flowering plants and investigations of additional taxa may help understand the mechanisms generating heteroplasmy as well as its effects on plant phenotypes. The role of mitochondrial heteroplasmy is of particular interest in plants as cytoplasmic male sterility is controlled by mitochondrial genotypes, sometimes leading to co-occurring female and hermaphroditic individuals (gynodioecy). Paternal leakage may be important in the evolution of mating systems in such populations. We conducted a genetic survey of the gynodioecious plant Plantago lanceolata, in which heteroplasmy has not previously been reported, and estimated the frequencies of mitochondrial genotypes and heteroplasmy. Sanger sequence genotyping of 179 individuals from 15 European populations for two polymorphic mitochondrial loci, atp6 and rps12, identified 15 heteroplasmic individuals. These were distributed among 6 of the 10 populations that had polymorphisms in the target loci and represented 8% of all sampled individuals and 15% of the individuals in those 6 populations. The incidence was highest in Northern England and Scotland. Our results are consistent with geographic differences in the incidence of paternal leakage and/or the rates of nuclear restoration of male fertility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Issue number1
Early online date9 Mar 2016
Publication statusPrint publication - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Frequent, geographically structured heteroplasmy in the mitochondria of a flowering plant, ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this