Project Data


Plant mitochondrial genomes are unusual in their diversity of structure and rapidity of change.  A recent comparison of the complete sequences of mitochondrial DNA from two eudicot species showed that, although most of the known coding regions are very conserved, large intergenic regions show no sequence similarity.  The regions between genes have important roles in the rapid structural evolution seen for plant mitochondrial genomes. Moreover, these “non-coding” regions can become functional as components of chimeric genes that have been described as being responsible for several cases of cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS).

Why Sequence:

In order to understand how non-coding regions of mitochondrial genomes contribute to their structural and functional diversity, it is necessary to examine closely related species. To address these issues, six mitochondrial genomes within the genus Zea, including fertile and CMS mtDNAs of maize, are being sequenced and compared to the the mtDNA sequences of more distant relatives, Tripsacum dactyloides and Sorghum bicolor.


  • Clifton, S.W., P. Minx, C. M.-R. Fauron, M. Gibson, J. O. Allen, H. Sun, M. Thompson, B. Barbazuk, S. Kanuganti, C. Tayloe, L. Meyer, R. K. Wilson and K. J. Newton. 2004. Sequence and comparative analysis of the maize NB mitochondrial genome. Plant Physiol. 136: 3486-3503.
  • Fauron, C., J.O. Allen, S. Clifton and K.J. Newton 2004. Plant mitochondrial genomes. In: Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of Plant Organelles, H. Daniell and C. Chase (eds.) Kluwer Acad. Publ. pp 151-177.
  • Newton, K.J., S. Gabay-Laughnan and R. DePaepe. 2004. Mitochondrial mutations in plants. In: Plant Mitochondria: From Genome to Function. D.A. Day, H.A., Millar, J. Whelan (Eds.) Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration, Vol. 17:121-142.
  • Gabay-Laughnan, S. and K.J. Newton. 2005. Mitochondrial mutations in maize. Maydica 50:349-359.
  • Allen, J.O., C-M. Fauron, P. Minx, L. Roark, S. Oddiraju, G.N. Lin, L. Meyer, H. Sun, K. Kim, C. Wang, F. Du, D. Xu, M. Gibson, J. Cifrese, S.W. Clifton, and K.J. Newton. 2007. Comparisons among two Fertile and three male-sterile mitochondrial genomes of maize. Genetics 177: 1173-1192.
  • Kubo T. and K.J. Newton. 2007. Angiosperm mitochondrial genomes and mutations. Mitochondrion, doi:10.1016/j.mito.2007.10.006

Grant Link

Maize Mitochondrial Newton Lab Research
324 Tucker Hall
Biological Sciences
University of Missouri - Columbia