The somatic accumulation of defective mitochondria causes human degenerative syndromes, senescence in fungi, and male sterility in plants. These diverse phenomena may result from conflicts between natural selection at different levels of organization. Such conflicts are fundamental to the evolution of cooperating groups, from cells to populations. We present a model in which defective mitochondrial genomes accumulate because of a within-cell replication advantage when among-cell selection for efficient respiration is relaxed. We tested the model by using experimental populations of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We constructed yeast strains that were heteroplasmic for mitochondrial mutations that destroy the ability to respire (the petite phenotype) and followed the accumulation of mitochondrial defects in cultures with different effective population sizes. As predicted by the model, the inability to respire evolved only in small populations of S. cerevisiae, where among-cell selection favoring cells that can respire was reduced relative to within-cell selection favoring parasitic mitochondria. In a control experiment, mitochondrial point mutations that confer resistance to chloramphenicol showed no tendency to change in frequency under any culture conditions. The accumulation of some mitochondrial defects is therefore an evolutionary process, involving multiple levels of selection. The relative intensities of within- and among-cell selection may also explain the tissue specificity of human mitochondrial defects.
|Evidence ID||Analyze ID||Interactor||Interactor Systematic Name||Interactor||Interactor Systematic Name||Type||Assay||Annotation||Action||Modification||Phenotype||Source||Reference||Note|
|Evidence ID||Analyze ID||Gene||Gene Systematic Name||Gene Ontology Term||Gene Ontology Term ID||Qualifier||Aspect||Method||Evidence||Source||Assigned On||Annotation Extension||Reference|
|Evidence ID||Analyze ID||Gene||Gene Systematic Name||Phenotype||Experiment Type||Experiment Type Category||Mutant Information||Strain Background||Chemical||Details||Reference|
|Evidence ID||Analyze ID||Regulator||Regulator Systematic Name||Target||Target Systematic Name||Experiment||Assay||Construct||Conditions||Strain Background||Reference|