This is the first report of a complete mitochondrial genome sequence from a photosynthetic member of the stramenopiles, the chrysophyte alga Chrysodidymus synuroideus. The circular-mapping mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 34 119 bp contains 58 densely packed genes (all without introns) and five unique open reading frames (ORFs). Protein genes code for components of respiratory chain complexes, ATP synthase and the mitoribosome, as well as one product of unknown function, encoded in many other protist mtDNAs (YMF16). In addition to small and large subunit ribosomal RNAs, 23 tRNAs are mtDNA-encoded, permitting translation of all codons present in protein-coding genes except ACN (Thr) and CGN (Arg). The missing tRNAs are assumed to be imported from the cytosol. Comparison of the C.synuroideus mtDNA with that of other stramenopiles allowed us to draw conclusions about mitochondrial genome organization, expression and evolution. First, we provide evidence that mitochondrial ORFs code for highly derived, unrecognizable versions of ribosomal or respiratory genes otherwise ‘missing’ in a particular mtDNA. Secondly, the observed constraints in mitochondrial genome rearrangements suggest operon-based, co-ordinated expression of genes functioning in common biological processes. Finally, stramenopile mtDNAs reveal an unexpectedly low variability in genome size and gene complement, testifying to substantial differences in the tempo of mtDNA evolution between major eukaryotic lineages
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