GNN - Genome News Network  
  Home | About | Topics
Mitochondrial genomes of animals
In the Literature

Here, GNN posts scientific abstracts reporting the sequences of mitochondrial genomes for a number of animal species, starting with the zebrafish, which is widely used to study developmental biology and disease. The other species include the hagfish, the wallaby louse, the cane rat, and the primary screwworm fly.

The mitochondrial genome is a tool for studying an organism's evolution and origin, because mitochondrial genomes—unlike the much larger nuclear genomes—are inherited through the maternal line.


The Complete Sequence of the Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Mitochondrial Genome and Evolutionary Patterns in Vertebrate Mitochondrial DNA.

We describe the complete sequence of the 16,596-nucleotide mitochondrial genome of the zebrafish (Danio rerio); contained are 13 protein genes, 22 tRNAs, 2 rRNAs, and a noncoding control region. Codon usage in protein genes is generally biased toward the available tRNA species but also reflects strand-specific nucleotide frequencies. For 19 of the 20 amino acids, the most frequently used codon ends in either A or C, with A preferred over C for fourfold degenerate codons (the lone exception was AUG: methionine). We show that rates of sequence evolution vary nearly as much within vertebrate classes as between them, yet nucleotide and amino acid composition show directional evolutionary trends, including marked differences between mammals and all other taxa. Birds showed similar compositional characteristics to the other nonmammalian taxa, indicating that the evolutionary trend in mammals is not solely due to metabolic rate and thermoregulatory factors. Complete mitochondrial genomes provide a large character base for phylogenetic analysis and may provide for robust estimates of phylogeny. Phylogenetic analysis of zebrafish and 35 other taxa based on all protein-coding genes produced trees largely, but not completely, consistent with conventional views of vertebrate evolution. It appears that even with such a large number of nucleotide characters (11,592), limited taxon sampling can lead to problems associated with extensive evolution on long phyletic branches.

Genome Res 2001 Nov;11(11):1958-1967.

The Complete Mitochondrial Genome of the Hagfish Myxine glutinosa: Unique Features of the Control Region.

The complete sequence of the mitochondrial DNA of the hagfish Myxine glutinosa has been determined. The hagfish mtDNA (18,909 bp) is the longest vertebrate mtDNA determined so far. The gene arrangement conforms to the consensus vertebrate type and differs from that of lampreys. The exceptionally long (3628-bp) control region of the hagfish contains the typical conserved elements found in other vertebrate mtDNAs but is characterized by a large number of putative hairpins, which can potentially fold into a highly compact secondary structure that appears to be unique to hagfish. The comparison of the mtDNAs of two M. glutinosa specimens, excluding the control region, shows a 0.6% divergence at the nucleotide level as a sample of intraspecies polymorphism.

J Mol Evol 2001 Dec;53(6):634-641.

The Complete Sequence of the Mitochondrial Genome of Buteo buteo (Aves, Accipitridae) Indicates an Early Split in the Phylogeny of Raptors.

The complete sequence of the mitochondrial (mt) genome of Buteo buteo was determined. Its gene content and nucleotide composition are typical for avian genomes. Due to expanded noncoding sequences, Buteo possesses the longest mt genome sequenced so far (18,674 bp). The gene order comprising the control region and neighboring genes is identical to that of Falco peregrinus, suggesting that the corresponding rearrangement occurred before the falconid/accipitrid split. Phylogenetic analyses performed with the mt sequence of Buteo and nine other mt genomes suggest that for investigations at higher taxonomic levels (e.g., avian orders), concatenated rRNA and tRNA gene sequences are more informative than protein gene sequences with respect to resolution and bootstrap support. Phylogenetic analyses indicate an early split between Accipitridae and Falconidae, which, according to molecular dating of other avian divergence times, can be assumed to have taken place in the late Cretaceous 65-83 MYA.

Mol Biol Evol 2001 Oct;18(10):1892-904.

The complete mitochondrial genome of the articulate brachiopod Terebratalia transversa.

We sequenced the complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of the articulate brachiopod Terebratalia transversa. The circular genome is 14,291 bp in size, relatively small compared with other published metazoan mtDNAs. The 37 genes commonly found in animal mtDNA are present; the size decrease is due to the truncation of several tRNA, rRNA, and protein genes, to some nucleotide overlaps, and to a paucity of noncoding nucleotides. Although the gene arrangement differs radically from those reported for other metazoans, some gene junctions are shared with two other articulate brachiopods, Laqueus rubellus and Terebratulina retusa. All genes in the T. transversa mtDNA, unlike those in most metazoan mtDNAs reported, are encoded by the same strand. The A+T content (59.1%) is low for a metazoan mtDNA, and there is a high propensity for homopolymer runs and a strong base-compositional strand bias. The coding strand is quite G+T-rich, a skew that is shared by the confamilial (laqueid) species L. rubellus but is the opposite of that found in T. retusa, a cancellothyridid. These compositional skews are strongly reflected in the codon usage patterns and the amino acid compositions of the mitochondrial proteins, with markedly different usages being observed between T. retusa and the two laqueids. This observation, plus the similarity of the laqueid noncoding regions to the reverse complement of the noncoding region of the cancellothyridid, suggests that an inversion that resulted in a reversal in the direction of first-strand replication has occurred in one of the two lineages. In addition to the presence of one noncoding region in T. transversa that is comparable with those in the other brachiopod mtDNAs, there are two others with the potential to form secondary structures; one or both of these may be involved in the process of transcript cleavage.

Mol Biol Evol 2001 Sep;18(9):1734-44.

Complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequences of extinct birds: ratite phylogenetics and the vicariance biogeography hypothesis.

The ratites have stimulated much debate as to how such large flightless birds came to be distributed across the southern continents, and whether they are a monophyletic group or are composed of unrelated lineages that independently lost the power of flight. Hypotheses regarding the relationships among taxa differ for morphological and molecular data sets, thus hindering attempts to test whether plate tectonic events can explain ratite biogeography. Here, we present the complete mitochondrial DNA genomes of two extinct moas from New Zealand, along with those of five extant ratites (the lesser rhea, the ostrich, the great spotted kiwi, the emu and the southern cassowary and two tinamous from different genera. The non-stationary base composition in these sequences violates the assumptions of most tree-building methods. When this bias is corrected using neighbour-joining with log-determinant distances and non-homogeneous maximum likelihood, the ratites are found to be monophlyletic, with moas basal, as in morphological trees. The avian sequences also violate a molecular clock, so we applied a non-parametric rate smoothing algorithm, which minimizes ancestor-descendant local rate changes, to date nodes in the tree. Using this method, most of the major ratite lineages fit the vicariance biogeography hypothesis, the exceptions being the ostrich and the kiwi, which require dispersal to explain their present distribution.

Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2001 May 7;268(1470):939-45.

Numerous gene rearrangements in the mitochondrial genome of the wallaby louse, Heterodoxus macropus (Phthiraptera).

The complete arrangement of genes in the mitochondrial (mt) genome is known for 12 species of insects, and part of the gene arrangement in the mt genome is known for over 300 other species of insects. The arrangement of genes in the mt genome is very conserved in insects studied, since all of the protein-coding and rRNA genes and most of the tRNA genes are arranged in the same way. We sequenced the entire mt genome of the wallaby louse, Heterodoxus macropus, which is 14,670 bp long and has the 37 genes typical of animals and some noncoding regions. The largest noncoding region is 73 bp long (93% A+T), and the second largest is 47 bp long (92% A+T). Both of these noncoding regions seem to be able to form stem-loop structures. The arrangement of genes in the mt genome of this louse is unlike that of any other animal studied. All tRNA genes have moved and/or inverted relative to the ancestral gene arrangement of insects, which is present in the fruit fly Drosophila yakuba. At least nine protein-coding genes (atp6, atp8, cox2, cob, nad1-nad3, nad5, and nad6) have moved; moreover, four of these genes (atp6, atp8, nad1, and nad3) have inverted. The large number of gene rearrangements in the mt genome of H. macropus is unprecedented for an arthropod.

Mol Biol Evol 2001 May;18(5):858-65.

Complete sequence of the mitochondrial genome of the tapeworm Hymenolepis diminuta: gene arrangements indicate that Platyhelminths are Eutrochozoans.

Using "long-PCR," we amplified in overlapping fragments the complete mitochondrial genome of the tapeworm Hymenolepis diminuta (Platyhelminthes: Cestoda) and determined its 13,900-nt sequence. The gene content is the same as that typically found for animal mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) except that atp8 appears to be lacking, a condition found previously for several other animals. Despite the small size of this mtDNA, there are two large noncoding regions, one of which contains 13 repeats of a 31-nt sequence and a potential stem-loop structure of 25 bp with an 11-member loop. Large potential secondary structures were identified also for the noncoding regions of two other cestode mtDNAS: Comparison of the mitochondrial gene arrangement of H. diminuta with those previously published supports a phylogenetic position of flatworms as members of the Eutrochozoa, rather than placing them basal to either a clade of protostomes or a clade of coelomates.

Mol Biol Evol 2001 May;18(5):721-30.

The mitochondrial genomes of the iguana (Iguana iguana) and the caiman (Caiman crocodylus): implications for amniote phylogeny.

The complete mitochondrial genomes of two reptiles, the common iguana (Iguana iguana) and the caiman (Caiman crocodylus), were sequenced in order to investigate phylogenetic questions of tetrapod evolution. The addition of the two species allows analysis of reptilian relationships using data sets other than those including only fast-evolving species. The crocodilian mitochondrial genomes seem to have evolved generally at a higher rate than those of other vertebrates. Phylogenetic analyses of 2889 amino-acid sites from 35 mitochondrial genomes supported the bird-crocodile relationship, lending no support to the Haematotherma hypothesis (with birds and mammals representing sister groups). The analyses corroborated the view that turtles are at the base of the bird-crocodile branch. This position of the turtles makes Diapsida paraphyletic. The origin of the squamates was estimated at 294 million years (Myr) ago and that of the turtles at 278 Myr ago. Phylogenetic analysis of mammalian relationships using the additional outgroups corroborated the Marsupionta hypothesis, which joins the monotremes and the marsupials to the exclusion of the eutherians.

Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2001 Mar 22;268(1467):623-31.

The mitochondrial genome of the primary screwworm fly Cochliomyia hominivorax (Diptera: Calliphoridae).

The complete sequence of the mitochondrial genome of the screwworm Cochliomyia hominivorax was determined. This genome is 16,022 bp in size and corresponds to a typical Brachycera mtDNA. A Serine start codon for COI and incomplete termination codons for COII, NADH 5 and NADH 4 genes were described. The nucleotide composition of C. hominivorax mtDNA is 77% AT-rich, reflected in the predominance of AT-rich codons in protein-coding genes. Non-optimal codon usage was commonly observed in C. hominivorax mitochondrial genes. Phylogenetic analysis distributed the Acalypterate species as a monophyletic group and assembled the C. hominivorax (Calyptratae) and the Acalyptratae in a typical Brachycera cluster. The identification of diagnostic restriction sites on the sequenced mitochondrial genome and the correlation with previous RFLP analysis are discussed.

Insect Mol Biol 2000 Oct;9(5):521-9.

Complete nucleotide sequence of Japanese flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus) mitochondrial genome: structural properties and cue for resolving teleostean relationships.

We cloned and sequenced the complete mitochondrial genome of Japanese flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus). A circular 17,090 bp mitochondrial genome from the flounder contains 37 structural genes as in other vertebrates so far reported. This is the first report of the complete mitochondrial sequence from a higher teleostean fish (Acanthopterygii). The organization including gene order is quite similar to that of other teleostean fishes as well as placental mammals. The putative control region of the Japanese flounder mitochondrial genome contains a length variable region of about a 74 bp tandem repeat cluster. As a preliminary study we adopted the maximum likelihood and neighbor-joining inference methods to examine phylogenetic relationships among teleostean and related fishes. Comparisons of amino acid sequences of protein-coding genes and nucleotide sequences of tRNA genes resolved some middle to deep branches among some teleostean fishes. The flounder mitochondrial genome does not show an indication of evolutionary rate difference among teleosts leading to difficulty in phylogenetic analyses, and our data is useful for future evolutionary studies dealing with higher teleostean fishes.

J Hered 2000 Jul-Aug;91(4):271-8.

. . .

Back to GNN Home Page