All life on earth relies on DNA-replication, recombination, and repair (DNA-RRR) pathways for stable maintenance and propagation of DNA. Plants are dependent on light for growth and are exposed to the damaging effects of radiation. Chloroplasts, the light harvesting plastids of plants and algae, are the sites at which radiation might be expected to cause the greatest damage. Radiation itself and toxic reactive oxygen species, produced as by products of photosynthesis, are examples of destructive agents that can damage plastid DNA (Fig. 1). Despite these damaging agents plastid DNA is relatively well conserved with respect to sequence and gene content (Palmer 1990) and is widely used for phylogenetic studies (Soltis et al. 1999). Plastid genomes are present in multiple copies per cell, which are identical resulting in a uniform population of DNA molecules within an
Topics in Current Genetics, Vol. 19 R. Bock (Ed.): Cell and Molecular Biology of Plastids DOI 10.1007/4735_2007_0231 / Published online: 13 June 2007 © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007
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