Plant mitochondrial genomes are large and complex, and the mechanisms for maintaining mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) remain unclear. Arabidopsis thaliana has two DNA polymerase genes, polIA and polIB, that have been shown to be dual localized to mitochondria and chloroplasts but are unequally expressed within primary plant tissues involved in cell division or cell expansion. PolIB expression is observed at higher levels in both shoot and root apexes, suggesting a possible role in organelle DNA replication in rapidly dividing or expanding cells. It is proposed that both polIA and polIB are required for mtDNA replication under wild type conditions. An Arabidopsis T-DNA polIB mutant has a 30% reduction in mtDNA levels but also a 70% induction in polIA gene expression. The polIB mutant shows an increase relative to wild type plants in the number of mitochondria that are significantly smaller in relative size, observed within hypocotyl epidermis cells that have a reduced rate of cell expansion. These mutants exhibit a significant increase in gene expression for components of mitorespiration and photosynthesis, and there is evidence for an increase in both light to dark (transitional) and light respiration levels. There is not a significant difference in dark adjusted total respiration between mutant and wild type plants. Chloroplast numbers are not significantly different in isolated mesophyll protoplasts, but mesophyll cells from the mutant are significantly smaller than wild type. PolIB mutants exhibit a three-day delay in chloroplast development but after 7dpi (days post-imbibition) there is no difference in relative plastid DNA levels between the mutant and wild type. Overall, the polIB mutant exhibits an adjustment in cell homeostasis, which enables the maintenance of functional mitochondria but at the cost of normal cell expansion rates.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





polymerase gamma, PolIA, PolIB, TWINKLE, mitochondria, DNA replication



Included in

Microbiology Commons