Divergent mitochondrial respiratory chains in phototrophic relatives of apicomplexan parasites

Pavel Flegontov, Jan Michálek, Jan Janouškovec, De Hua Lai, Milan Jirků, Eva Hajdušková, Aleš Tomčala, Thomas D. Otto, Patrick J. Keeling, Arnab Pain, Miroslav Oborník, J. Lukeš

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Four respiratory complexes and ATP-synthase represent central functional units in mitochondria. In some mitochondria and derived anaerobic organelles, a few or all of these respiratory complexes have been lost during evolution. We show that the respiratory chain of Chromera velia, a phototrophic relative of parasitic apicomplexans, lacks complexes I and III, making it a uniquely reduced aerobic mitochondrion. In Chromera, putative lactate:cytochrome c oxidoreductases are predicted to transfer electrons from lactate to cytochrome c, rendering complex III unnecessary. The mitochondrial genome of Chromera has the smallest known protein-coding capacity of all mitochondria, encoding just cox1 and cox3 on heterogeneous linear molecules. In contrast, another photosynthetic relative of apicomplexans, Vitrella brassicaformis, retains the same set of genes as apicomplexans and dinoflagellates (cox1, cox3, and cob). © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1115-1131
Number of pages17
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 6 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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