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Self-replicative genetic elements separate from main chromosome(s) of a cell. This definition usually excludes viruses, but the division is somewhat arbitrary. In bacteria, plasmids are the principal extrachromosomes; they encode functions which are not essential to the growth and division of the host cell. In eukaryotes, extrachromosomes may be either essential or dispensable. They may inhabit (i) the nucleus, e.g., extrachromosomal rDNA molecules, yeast 2 micrometer plasmid; (ii) the cytosol, e.g., dsRNA molecules in fungi; or (iii) the cytoplasmic organelles, e.g., mitochondrial DNA, chloroplast DNA. Eukaryotic extrachromosomal elements may be recognized genetically by their failure to show segregation at meiosis.
Publication Source: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Publication Date: 1999
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