Mitochondria in animals are associated with development, as well as physiological and pathological behaviors. Several conserved mitochondrial genes exist between plants and higher eukaryotes. Yet, the similarities in mitochondrial function between plant and animal species is poorly understood. Here, we show that FMT (FRIENDLY MITOCHONDRIA) from Arabidopsis thaliana, a highly conserved homolog of the mammalian CLUH (CLUSTERED MITOCHONDRIA) gene family encoding mitochondrial proteins associated with developmental alterations and adult physiological and pathological behaviors, affects whole plant morphology and development under both stressed and normal growth conditions.
FMT was found to regulate mitochondrial morphology and dynamics, germination, and flowering time.
It also affects leaf expansion growth, salt stress responses and hyponastic behavior, including changes in speed of hyponastic movements.
Strikingly, Cluh± heterozygous knockout mice also displayed altered locomotive movements, traveling for shorter distances and had slower average and maximum speeds in the open field test.
These observations indicate that homologous mitochondrial genes may play similar roles and affect homologous functions in both plants and animals.