Wild type cells of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii can grow in the in the dark by taking up and respiring exogenously supplied acetate. Obligate photoautotrophic (dark dier, dk) mutants of this alga have been selected which grow at near wild type rates in the light, but rapidly die when transferred to darkness because of defects in mitochondrial structure and function. In crosses of the dk mutants to wild type, the majority of the mutants are inherited in a mendelian fashion, although two have been isolated which are inherited in a clearly nonmendelian fashion. Nine mendelian dk mutants have been analyzed in detail, and belong to eight different complementation groups representing eight gene loci. These mutants have been tentatively grouped into three classes on the basis of the pleiotropic nature of their phenotypic defects. Mutants in Class I have gross alterations in the ultrastructure of their mitochondrial inner membranes together with deficiencies in cytochrome oxidase and antimycin/rotenone-sensitive NADH-cytochrome c reductase activities. Mutants in Class II have a variety of less severe alterations in mitochondrial ultrastructure and deficiencies in cytochrome oxidase activity. Mutants in Class III have normal or near normal mitochondrial ultrastructure and reduced cytochrome oxidase activity. Eight of the nine mutants show corresponding reductions in cyanide-sensitive respiration.

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