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Keywords:

  • Fucus;
  • heteroplasmy;
  • hybrids;
  • mitochondria;
  • mtDNA;
  • organelle inheritance

Eukaryotic mitochondria are mostly uniparentally (maternally) inherited, although mtDNA heteroplasmy has been reported in all major lineages. Heteroplasmy, the presence of more than one mitochondrial genome in an individual, can arise from recombination, point mutations, or by occasional transmission of the paternal mtDNA (=paternal leakage). Here, we report the first evidence of mtDNA paternal leakage in brown algae. In Denmark, where Fucus serratus L. and Fucus evanescens C. Agardh have hybridized for years, we found eight introgressed individuals that possessed the very distinct haplotypes of each parental species. The finding of heteroplasmy in individuals resulting from several generations of backcrosses suggests that paternal leakage occurred in earlier generations and has persisted through several meiotic bottlenecks.