Recent information on the plastid genes and genomes of rhodophyte (red algae) and chromophyte (yellow and brown algae) plastids are summarized. The plastid genomes of these algae contain many more genes than those of metaphyte (land plant) plastids, and the encoded proteins are involved in a much wider range of metabolic activities. Rhodophyte and chromophyte plastid genomes contain very few introns and maintain many ancestral gene operons, which suggests that they are more primitive than those of metaphytes. Hypotheses of plastid evolution (monophyletic or polyphyletic primary origins) are discussed and assessed. The data available at present support the idea that all plastids arose from a single endosymbiotic event that involved a cyanobacterium and a eukaryote host (monophyletic origin). Information from rhodophyte and chromophyte plastid genomes also provides insights into the evolution of other organisms. Finally, the implications for plastid metabolism that arise from the presence of several genes on rhodophyte and chromophyte plastid genomes are discussed.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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