We will attempt to recapitulate mitochondrial evolution based on the endosymbiotic theory.
Eukaryotic organelles, like mitochondria and chloroplasts, are proposed to have evolved from
bacterial endosymbionts during an early stage of evolution. Here we will begin to test this theory
using two well established model organisms – E. coli and S. cerevisiae. Specifically, we will
generate bacterial endosymbionts in yeast cells. Once we establish stable endosymbionts we will
systematically either knockout large parts of the bacterial genome or move specific genes to the
host genome to obtain a minimal symbiont genome similar to the early stages of mitochondrial
evolution. We will also attempt to further delete genes in the yeast mitochondria, explore those
factors that affect the stability of this system and light utilizing endosymbionts using yeast and
cyanobacteria. These studies have the potential to provide additional insights into the evolution
of complex eukaryotic functions, such as energy generating mitochondria.