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Organelle biogenesis and function is dependent on the concerted action of both organellar-encoded (if present) and nuclear-encoded proteins. Differences between homologous organelles across the plant kingdom arise, in part, as a result of differences in the cohort of nuclear-encoded proteins that are targeted to them. However, neither the rate at which differences in protein targeting accumulate nor the evolutionary consequences of these changes are known. Using phylogenomic approaches coupled to ancestral state estimation we show that the plant organellar proteome has diversified in proportion with molecular sequence evolution such that the proteomes of plant chloroplasts and mitochondria lose or gain on average 3.6 proteins per million years. We further demonstrated that change to organellar targeting is associated with an increase in the rate of molecular sequence evolution and that changes in protein targeting predominantly occurred in genes with regulatory rather than metabolic functions. Finally, we show that gain and loss of protein targeting occurs at a higher rate following gene duplication, revealing that gene and genome duplication are a key facilitator of plant organelle evolution.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Biol Evol

Publication Date



Evolution, duplication, localisation, organelle, plant, protein, proteome, targeting