The control of mitochondrial morphology and dynamics in Arabidopis thaliana
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Mitochondria are ubiquitous eukaryotic organelles which carry out a range of essential functions, most notably the production of ATP through the process of oxidative phosphorylation. While the main biochemical function of mitochondria was established over 50 years ago, the processes which control mitochondrial morphology are, at present, poorly understood. The thesis aims to add to our knowledge of the factors that control mitochondrial morphology and dynamics in the model plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana. The phenotypic characteristics of two novel mitochondrial morphology mutants, motley mitochondria I (mmtl) and network mitochondria (nmt), were examined and quantified. mmtl has an increased heterogeneity of mitochondrial plan area relative to wild-type, which is matched by a similar chloroplast phenotype. nmt exhibits a reticular mitochondrial morphology, similar to the mitochondria found in yeast and animals. Genetic mapping of the two mutant loci has established that mmtl resides on a short region of chromosome 11w, hile nmt was mapped to a small area of chromosome V. This thesis describes the identification and functional analysis of two novel orthologs of yeast and animal mitochondrial division genes. Using TDNA reverse genetics, it is shown that disruption of the dynamin-like DRP3A or BIGYIN (an Arabidopsis orthologue of yeast FISI) led to an increase in mitochondrial plan area, which is coupled with a decrease in the number of physically discrete mitochondria per cell. Finally, the morphology and behaviour of Arabiclopsis mitochondria is investigated upon the induction of cell death. Abiotic stress treatments that induce cell death led to fast and irreversible changes in mitochondrial morphology. The role of these changes, as possible early indicators of cell death, are discussed.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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