• Mitochondrial inheritance and germ line determination in a bivalve species with Doubly Uniparental Inheritance (DUI)
  • Milani, Liliana <1976>


  • BIO/05 Zoologia


  • Mitochondria are inherited maternally in most metazoans. However, in some bivalves, two mitochondrial lineages are present: one transmitted through eggs (F), the other through sperm (M). This is called Doubly Uniparental Inheritance (DUI). During male embryo development, spermatozoon mitochondria aggregate and end up in the primordial germ cells, while they are dispersed in female embryos. The molecular mechanisms of segregation patterns are still unknown. In the DUI species Ruditapes philippinarum, I examined sperm mitochondria distribution by MitoTracker, microtubule staining and TEM, and I localized germ line determinants with immunocytochemical analysis. I also analyzed the gonad transcriptome, searching for genes involved in reproduction and sex determination. Moreover, I analyzed an M-type specific open reading frame that could be responsible for maintenance/degradation of M mitochondria during embryo development. These transcripts were also localized in tissues using in situ hybridization. As in Mytilus, two distribution patterns of M mitochondria were detected in R. philippinarum, supporting that they are related to DUI. Moreover, the first division midbody concurs in positioning aggregated M mitochondria on the animal-vegetal axis of the male embryo: in organisms with spiral segmentation this zone is not involved in further cleavages, so aggregation is maintained. Moreover, sperm mitochondria reach the same embryonic area where germ plasm is transferred, suggesting their contribution in male germ line formation. The finding of reproduction and ubiquitination transcripts led to formulate a model in which ubiquitination genes stored in female oocytes during gametogenesis would activate sex-gene expression in the early embryonic developmental stages (preformation). Only gametogenetic cells were labeled by in situ hybridization, proving their specific transcription in developing gametes. Other than having a role in sex determination, some ubiquination factors could also be involved in mitochondrial inheritance, and their differential expression could be responsible for the different fate of sperm mitochondria in the two sexes.


  • 2012-05-17


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Milani, Liliana (2012) Mitochondrial inheritance and germ line determination in a bivalve species with Doubly Uniparental Inheritance (DUI), [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biodiversità ed evoluzione , 24 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/4761.