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Extra Chromosomal Inheritance or Extra Nuclear Inheritance (Cytoplasmic Inheritance)
DNA is the universal genetic material. Genes located in nuclear chromosomes follow Mendelian inheritance. But certain traits are governed either by the chloroplast or mitochondrial genes. This phenomenon is known as extra nuclear inheritance. It is a kind of Non-Mendelian inheritance. Since it involves cytoplasmic organelles such as chloroplast and mitochondrion that act as inheritance vectors, it is also called Cytoplasmic inheritance. It is based on independent, self-replicating extra chromosomal unit called plasmogene located in the cytoplasmic organelles, chloroplast and mitochondrion.
It is found in 4 O’ Clock plant (Mirabilis jalapa). In this, there are two types of variegated leaves namely dark green leaved plants and pale green leaved plants. When the pollen of dark green leaved plant (male) is transferred to the stigma of pale green leaved plant (female) and pollen of pale green leaved plant is transferred to the stigma of dark green leaved plant, the F1 generation of both the crosses must be identical as per Mendelian inheritance. But in the reciprocal cross the F1 plant differs from each other. In each cross, the F1 plant reveals the character of the plant which is used as female plant.
This inheritance is not through nuclear gene. It is due to the chloroplast gene found in the ovum of the female plant which contributes the cytoplasm during fertilization since the male gamete contribute only the nucleus but not cytoplasm.
Male sterility found in pearl maize (Sorgum vulgare) is the best example for mitochondrial cytoplasmic inheritance. So it is called cytoplasmic male sterility. In this, male sterility is inherited maternally. The gene for cytoplasmic male sterility is found in the mitochondrial DNA.
In this plant there are two types, one with normal cytoplasm (N) which is male fertile and the other one with aberrant cytoplasm (S) which is male sterile. These types also exhibit reciprocal differences as found in Mirabilis jalapa.
Recently it has been discovered that cytoplasmic genetic male sterility is common in many plant species. This sterility is maintained by the influence of both nuclear and cytoplasmic genes. There are commonly two types of cytoplasm N (normal) and S (sterile). The genes for these are found in mitochondrion. There are also restores of fertility (Rf) genes. Even though these genes are nuclear genes, they are distinct from genetic male sterility genes of other plants. Because the Rf genes do not have any expression of their own, unless the sterile cytoplasm is present. Rf genes are required to restore fertility in S cytoplasm which is responsible for sterility.
So the combination of N cytoplasm with rfrf and S cytoplasm with RfRf produces plants with fertile pollens, while S cytoplasm with rfrf produces only male sterile plants.
Atavism is a modification of a biological structure whereby an ancestral trait reappears after having been lost through evolutionary changes in the previous generations. Evolutionary traits that have disappeared phenotypically do not necessarily disappear from an organism’s DNA. The gene sequence often remains, but is inactive. Such an unused gene may remain in the genome for many generations. As long as the gene remains intact, a fault in the genetic control suppressing the gene can lead to the reappearance of that character again. Reemergence of sexual reproduction in the flowering plant Hieracium pilosella is the best example for Atavism in plants.
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