Background: Plant mitochondria contain a relatively large amount of genetic information, suggesting that their functional regulation may not be as straightforward as that of metazoans. We used a genomic tiling array to draw a transcriptomic atlas of Oryza sativa japonica (rice) mitochondria, which was predicted to be approximately 490-kb long.Results: Whereas statistical analysis verified the transcription of all previously known functional genes such as the ones related to oxidative phosphorylation, a similar extent of RNA expression was frequently observed in the inter-genic regions where none of the previously annotated genes are located. The newly identified open reading frames (ORFs) predicted in these transcribed inter-genic regions were generally not conserved among flowering plant species, suggesting that these ORFs did not play a role in mitochondrial principal functions. We also identified two partial fragments of retrotransposon sequences as being transcribed in rice mitochondria.Conclusion: The present study indicated the previously unexpected complexity of plant mitochondrial RNA metabolism. Our transcriptomic data (Oryza sativa Mitochondrial rna Expression Server: OsMES) is publicly accessible at [http://bioinf.mind.meiji.ac.jp/cgi-bin/gbrowse/OsMes/#search].
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