Mitochondrial genomes are a valuable source of data for analysing phylogenetic relationships. Besides sequence information, mitochondrial gene order may add phylogenetically useful information, too. Sipuncula are unsegmented marine worms, traditionally placed in their own phylum. Recent molecular and morphological findings suggest a close affinity to the segmented Annelida.
The first complete mitochondrial genome of a member of Sipuncula, Sipunculus nudus, is presented. All 37 genes characteristic for metazoan mtDNA were detected and are encoded on the same strand. The mitochondrial gene order (protein-coding and ribosomal RNA genes) resembles that of annelids, but shows several derivations so far found only in Sipuncula. Sequence based phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial protein-coding genes results in significant bootstrap support for Annelida sensu lato, combining Annelida together with Sipuncula, Echiura, Pogonophora and Myzostomida.
The mitochondrial sequence data support a close relationship of Annelida and Sipuncula. Also the most parsimonious explanation of changes in gene order favours a derivation from the annelid gene order. These results complement findings from recent phylogenetic analyses of nuclear encoded genes as well as a report of a segmental neural patterning in Sipuncula.
Annelida comprises an ancient and ecologically important animal phylum with over 16,500 described species and members are the dominant macrofauna of the deep sea. Traditionally, two major groups are distinguished: Clitellata (including earthworms, leeches) and "Polychaeta" (mostly marine worms). Recent analyses of molecular data suggest that Annelida may include other taxa once considered separate phyla (i.e., Echiura, and Sipuncula) and that Clitellata are derived annelids, thus rendering "Polychaeta" paraphyletic; however, this contradicts classification schemes of annelids developed from recent analyses of morphological characters. Given that deep-level evolutionary relationships of Annelida are poorly understood, we have analyzed comprehensive datasets based on nuclear and mitochondrial genes, and have applied rigorous testing of alternative hypotheses so that we can move towards the robust reconstruction of annelid history needed to interpret animal body plan evolution.
Sipuncula, Echiura, Siboglinidae, and Clitellata are all nested within polychaete annelids according to phylogenetic analyses of three nuclear genes (18S rRNA, 28S rRNA, EF1α; 4552 nucleotide positions analyzed) for 81 taxa, and 11 nuclear and mitochondrial genes for 10 taxa (additional: 12S rRNA, 16S rRNA, ATP8, COX1-3, CYTB, NAD6; 11,454 nucleotide positions analyzed). For the first time, these findings are substantiated using approximately unbiased tests and non-scaled bootstrap probability tests that compare alternative hypotheses. For echiurans, the polychaete group Capitellidae is corroborated as the sister taxon; while the exact placement of Sipuncula within Annelida is still uncertain, our analyses suggest an affiliation with terebellimorphs. Siboglinids are in a clade with other sabellimorphs, and clitellates fall within a polychaete clade with aeolosomatids as their possible sister group. None of our analyses support the major polychaete clades reflected in the current classification scheme of annelids, and hypothesis testing significantly rejects monophyly of Scolecida, Palpata, Canalipalpata, and Aciculata.
Using multiple genes and explicit hypothesis testing, we show that Echiura, Siboglinidae, and Clitellata are derived annelids with polychaete sister taxa, and that Sipuncula should be included within annelids. The traditional composition of Annelida greatly underestimates the morphological diversity of this group, and inclusion of Sipuncula and Echiura implies that patterns of segmentation within annelids have been evolutionarily labile. Relationships within Annelida based on our analyses of multiple genes challenge the current classification scheme, and some alternative hypotheses are provided.
The Echiura, or spoon worms, are a group of marine worms, most of which live in burrows in soft sediments. This annelid-like animal group was once considered as a separate phylum because of the absence of segmentation, although recent molecular analyses have placed it within the annelids. In this study, we elucidate the interfamily relationships of echiuran worms and their evolutionary pattern of feeding mode and sexual dimorphism, by performing molecular phylogenetic analyses using four genes (18S, 28S, H3, and COI) of representatives of all extant echiuran families. Our results suggest that Echiura is monophyletic and comprises two unexpected groups: [Echiuridae+Urechidae+Thalassematidae] and [Bonelliidae+Ikedidae]. This grouping agrees with the presence/absence of marked sexual dimorphism involving dwarf males and the paired/non-paired configuration of the gonoducts (genital sacs). Furthermore, the data supports the sister group relationship of Echiuridae and Urechidae. These two families share the character of having anal chaetae rings around the posterior trunk as a synapomorphy. The analyses also suggest that deposit feeding is a basal feeding mode in echiurans and that filter feeding originated once in the common ancestor of Urechidae. Overall, our results contradict the currently accepted order-level classification, especially in that Echiuroinea is polyphyletic, and provide novel insights into the evolution of echiuran worms.
Numerous phylogenetic analyses on polychaete annelids suggest a taxon Capitellida that comprises the three families Maldanidae, Arenicolidae and Capitellidae. Recent molecular studies support the position of the Echiura, traditionally ranked as a separate phylum, within the capitellids. In order to test the robustness of this molecular-based hypothesis we take a different approach using comparative analyses of nervous and muscle system development in the maldanid Axiothella rubrocincta. Employing immunocytochemistry in combination with confocal laserscanning microscopy, we broaden the database on capitellid organogenesis, thereby incorporating classical histological data in our analysis. Besides assessing possible shared features with the echiurans, we also discuss the variability of neural and muscular characters within the Capitellida.
The scaffold of the adult central nervous system, which is already established in early developmental stages of Axiothella, consists of cerebral commissures that give rise to simple circumesophageal connectives with fused ventral and dorsal roots and a single ventral neurite bundle. From the latter arise segmental neurites that innervate the peripheral bodywall. Since there is no observable regular pattern, and individual neurites are lost during ontogeny, their exact arrangement remains elusive. The pharynx is encircled by a prominent stomatogastric nerve ring, with a pair of anterior and lateral proboscis neurites directly connecting it to the central nervous system. One pair of ventral and one pair of dorsal longitudinal muscles form the earliest rudiments of the bodywall musculature in late larval stages, while a continuous layer of circular muscles is lacking throughout ontogeny.
Comparative neurodevelopmental analysis of capitellid and echiuran species reveals several common characters, including simple circumesophageal connectives, a single fused ventral nerve strand, and a stomatogastric ring nerve, that support a close relationship of both taxa, thus corroborating recent molecular phylogenetic analyses. The data on myogenesis show that four longitudinal muscle bands most likely represent an ancestral character not only for the Capitellida, but for the Annelida in general. Whether or not circular muscles are part of the annelid groundpattern remains uncertain.
Polychaetes assigned as Scoloplos armiger (Orbiniidae) show a cosmopolitan distribution and have been encountered in all zoogeographic regions. Sibling S. armiger-like species have been revealed by recent studies using RAPDs and AFLP genetic data. We sequenced a ~12 kb fragment of the Scoloplos cf. armiger mitochondrial genome and developed primers for variable regions including the 3' end of the cox3 gene, trnQ, and most of nad6. A phylogenetic analysis of this 528-nucleotide fragment was carried out for S. armiger-like individuals from the Eastern North Atlantic as well as Pacific regions. The aim of this study is to test the cosmopolitan status, as well as to clarify the systematics of this species complex in the Eastern North Atlantic, while using a few specimens from the Pacific Ocean for comparision.
Phylogenetic analysis of the cox3-trnQ-nad6 data set recovered five different clades of Scoloplos cf. armiger. The fragment of the mitochondrial genome of Scoloplos cf. armiger is 12,042 bp long and contains 13 protein coding genes, 15 of the 22 expected tRNAs, and the large ribosomal subunit (rrnl).
The sequenced cox3-trnQ-nad6 fragment proved to be very useful in phylogenetic analyses of Scoloplos cf. armiger. Due to its larger sampling scale this study goes beyond previous analyses which used RAPD and AFLP markers. The results of this study clearly supports that Scoloplos armiger represents a species complex and not a cosmopolitan species. We find at least two S. armiger-like species within the Pacific region and three different S. armiger-like species in the North Atlantic. Implications for the taxonomy and the impact on ecological studies are discussed.
A through gut is present in almost all metazoans, and most likely represents an ancient innovation that enabled bilaterian animals to exploit a wide range of habitats. Molecular developmental studies indicate that Fox and GATA regulatory genes specify tissue regions along the gut tube in a broad diversity of taxa, although little is known about gut regionalization within the Lophotrochozoa. In this study, we isolated FoxA and GATA456 orthologs and used whole mount in situ hybridization during larval gut formation in two marine worms: the segmented, polychaete annelid Chaetopterus, which develops a planktotrophic larva with a tripartite gut, and the non-segmented sipunculan Themiste lageniformis, which develops a lecithotrophic larva with a U-shaped gut.
FoxA and GATA456 transcripts are predominantly restricted to gut tissue, and together show regional expression spanning most of the alimentary canal in each of these lophotrochozoans, although neither FoxA nor GATA456 is expressed in the posterior intestine of Chaetopterus. In both species, FoxA is expressed at the blastula stage, transiently in presumptive endoderm before formation of a definitive gut tube, and throughout early larval development in discrete foregut and hindgut domains. GATA456 genes are expressed during endoderm formation, and in endoderm and mesoderm associated with the midgut in each species. Several species-specific differences were detected, including an overlap of FoxA and GATA456 expression in the intestinal system of Themiste, which is instead complimentary in Chaetopterus. Other differences include additional discrete expression domains of FoxA in ectodermal trunk cells in Themiste but not Chaetopterus, and expression of GATA456 in anterior ectoderm and midgut cells unique to Chaetopterus.
This study of gene expression in a sipunculan contributes new comparative developmental insights from lophotrochozoans, and shows that FoxA and GATA456 transcription factors are part of an ancient patterning mechanism that was deployed during early evolution of the metazoan through gut. The common utilization of FoxA and GATA456 throughout gut formation by species with contrasting life history modes indicates that both genes are core components of a gut-specific gene regulatory network in spiralians. Despite a highly conserved pattern of early development, and probably similar ontogenic origins of gut tissue, there are molecular differences in gut regionalization between lophotrochozoan species.
Bone-eating Osedax worms have proved to be surprisingly diverse and widespread. Including the initial description of this genus in 2004, five species that live at depths between 25 and 3,000 m in the eastern and western Pacific and in the north Atlantic have been named to date. Here, we provide molecular and morphological evidence for 12 additional evolutionary lineages from Monterey Bay, California. To assess their phylogenetic relationships and possible status as new undescribed species, we examined DNA sequences from two mitochondrial (COI and 16S rRNA) and three nuclear genes (H3, 18S and 28S rRNA).
Phylogenetic analyses identified 17 distinct evolutionary lineages. Levels of sequence divergence among the undescribed lineages were similar to those found among the named species. The 17 lineages clustered into five well-supported clades that also differed for a number of key morphological traits. Attempts to determine the evolutionary age of Osedax depended on prior assumptions about nucleotide substitution rates. According to one scenario involving a molecular clock calibrated for shallow marine invertebrates, Osedax split from its siboglinid relatives about 45 million years ago when archeocete cetaceans first appeared and then diversified during the late Oligocene and early Miocene when toothed and baleen whales appeared. Alternatively, the use of a slower clock calibrated for deep-sea annelids suggested that Osedax split from its siboglinid relatives during the Cretaceous and began to diversify during the Early Paleocene, at least 20 million years before the origin of large marine mammals.
To help resolve uncertainties about the evolutionary age of Osedax, we suggest that the fossilized bones from Cretaceous marine reptiles and late Oligocene cetaceans be examined for possible trace fossils left by Osedax roots. Regardless of the outcome, the present molecular evidence for strong phylogenetic concordance across five separate genes suggests that the undescribed Osedax lineages comprise evolutionarily significant units that have been separate from one another for many millions of years. These data coupled with ongoing morphological analyses provide a solid foundation for their future descriptions as new species.
Annelida is one of the major protostome phyla, whose deep phylogeny is very poorly understood. Recent molecular phylogenies show that Annelida may include groups once considered separate phyla (Pogonophora, Echiurida, and Sipunculida) and that Clitellata are derived polychaetes. SThe "total-evidence" analyses combining morphological and molecular characters have been published for a few annelid taxa. No attempt has yet been made to analyse simultaneously morphological and molecular information concerning the Annelida as a whole.
Phylogenetic relationships within Annelida were analysed on the basis of 93 morphological characters and sequences of six genes (18S, 28S, and 16S rRNA, EF1α, H3, COI), altogether, 87 terminals of all annelid "families" and 3,903 informative characters, by Bayesian and maximum-parsimony methods. The analysis of the combined dataset yields the following scheme of relationships: Phyllodocida and Eunicida are monophyletic groups, together probably forming monophyletic Aciculata (incl. Orbiniidae and Parergodrilidae that form a sister group of the Eunicida). The traditional "Scolecida" and "Canalipalpata" are both polyphyletic, forming instead two clades: one including Cirratuliformia and the "sabelloid-spionoid clade" (incl. Sternaspis, Sabellidae-Serpulidae, Sabellariidae, Spionida s.str.), the other ("terebelloid-capitelloid clade") including Terebelliformia, Arenicolidae-Maldanidae, and Capitellidae-Echiurida. The Clitellata and "clitellate-like polychaetes" (Aeolosomatidae, Potamodrilidae, Hrabeiella) form a monophyletic group. The position of the remaining annelid groups is uncertain – the most problematic taxa are the Opheliidae-Scalibregmatidae clade, the Amphinomida-Aberranta clade, Apistobranchus, Chaetopteridae, Myzostomida, the Sipunculida-Dinophilidae clade, and the "core Archiannelida" (= Protodrilidae, Nerillidae, Polygordiidae, Saccocirridae).
The combined ("total-evidence") phylogenetic analysis provides a modified view of annelid evolution, with several higher-level taxa, i.e. Phyllodocida, Eunicida, orbinioid-parergodrilid clade (OPC), Cirratuliformia, sabelloid-spionoid clade (SSC), terebelloid-capitelloid clade (TCC), and "Clitellatomorpha". Two unorthodox clades, the "core Archiannelida" and Sipunculida-Dinophilidae, are proposed. Although the deep-level evolutionary relationships of Annelida remain poorly understood, we propose the monophyly of the Aciculata, sister-group relationships between the Eunicida and OPC, between the Cirratuliformia and SSC, and possibly also between the "Clitellatomorpha" and Oweniidae-Pogonophora clades.
Traditionally, genomic or transcriptomic data have been restricted to a few model or emerging model organisms, and to a handful of species of medical and/or environmental importance. Next-generation sequencing techniques have the capability of yielding massive amounts of gene sequence data for virtually any species at a modest cost. Here we provide a comparative analysis of de novo assembled transcriptomic data for ten non-model species of previously understudied animal taxa.
cDNA libraries of ten species belonging to five animal phyla (2 Annelida [including Sipuncula], 2 Arthropoda, 2 Mollusca, 2 Nemertea, and 2 Porifera) were sequenced in different batches with an Illumina Genome Analyzer II (read length 100 or 150 bp), rendering between ca. 25 and 52 million reads per species. Read thinning, trimming, and de novo assembly were performed under different parameters to optimize output. Between 67,423 and 207,559 contigs were obtained across the ten species, post-optimization. Of those, 9,069 to 25,681 contigs retrieved blast hits against the NCBI non-redundant database, and approximately 50% of these were assigned with Gene Ontology terms, covering all major categories, and with similar percentages in all species. Local blasts against our datasets, using selected genes from major signaling pathways and housekeeping genes, revealed high efficiency in gene recovery compared to available genomes of closely related species. Intriguingly, our transcriptomic datasets detected multiple paralogues in all phyla and in nearly all gene pathways, including housekeeping genes that are traditionally used in phylogenetic applications for their purported single-copy nature.
We generated the first study of comparative transcriptomics across multiple animal phyla (comparing two species per phylum in most cases), established the first Illumina-based transcriptomic datasets for sponge, nemertean, and sipunculan species, and generated a tractable catalogue of annotated genes (or gene fragments) and protein families for ten newly sequenced non-model organisms, some of commercial importance (i.e., Octopus vulgaris). These comprehensive sets of genes can be readily used for phylogenetic analysis, gene expression profiling, developmental analysis, and can also be a powerful resource for gene discovery. The characterization of the transcriptomes of such a diverse array of animal species permitted the comparison of sequencing depth, functional annotation, and efficiency of genomic sampling using the same pipelines, which proved to be similar for all considered species. In addition, the datasets revealed their potential as a resource for paralogue detection, a recurrent concern in various aspects of biological inquiry, including phylogenetics, molecular evolution, development, and cellular biochemistry.
Annelida; Arthropoda; Illumina; Mollusca; Nemertea; Next-generation sequencing; Porifera; Sipuncula
In Annelida two types of photoreceptor cells (PRCs) are regarded as generally present, rhabdomeric and ciliary PRCs. In certain taxa, however, an additional type of PRC may occur, the so called phaosomal PRC. Whereas the former two types of PRCs are always organized as an epithelium with their sensory processes projecting into an extracellular cavity formed by the PRCs and (pigmented) supportive cells, phaosomes are seemingly intracellular vacuoles housing the sensory processes. Phaosomal PRCs are the only type of PRC found in one major annelid group, Clitellata. Several hypotheses have been put forward explaining the evolutionary origin of the clitellate phaosomes. To elucidate the evolution of clitellate PRC and eyes the leech Helobdella robusta, for which a sequenced genome is available, was chosen.
TEM observations showed that extraocular and ocular PRCs are structurally identical. Bioinformatic analyses revealed predictions for four opsin genes, three of which could be amplified. All belong to the rhabdomeric opsin family and phylogenetic analyses showed them in a derived position within annelid opsins. Gene expression studies showed two of them expressed in the eye and in the extraocular PRCs. Polychaete eye-typic key enzymes for ommochromme and pterin shading pigments synthesis are not expressed in leech eyes.
By comparative gene-expression studies we herein provide strong evidence that the phaosomal PRCs typical of Clitellata are derived from the rhabdomeric PRCs characteristic for polychaete adult eyes. Thus, they represent a highly derived type of PRC that evolved in the stem lineage of Clitellata rather than another, primitive type of PRC in Metazoa. Evolution of these PRCs in Clitellata is related to a loss of the primary eyes and most of their photoreceptive elements except for the rhabdomeric PRCs. Most likely this happened while changing to an endobenthic mode of life. This hypothesis of PRC evolution is in accordance with a recently published phylogeny of Annelida based on phylogenomic data. The data provide a nice example how morphologically highly divergent light sensitive structures emerged from a standard type of photoreceptor cell.
Annelida; Cell type; Clitellata; Evolution; Eye; Opsin; Phaosome; Photoreceptor cell; Phylogeny
Both the monophyly and inter-relationships of the major annelid groups have remained uncertain, despite intensive research on both morphology and molecular sequences. Morphological cladistic analyses indicate that Annelida is monophyletic and consists of two monophyletic groups, the clitellates and polychaetes, whereas molecular phylogenetic analyses suggest that polychaetes are paraphyletic and that sipunculans are crown-group annelids. Both the monophyly of polychaetes and the placement of sipunculans within annelids are in conflict with the annelid fossil record—the former because Cambrian stem taxa are similar to modern polychaetes in possessing biramous parapodia, suggesting that clitellates are derived from polychaetes; the latter because although fossil sipunculans are known from the Early Cambrian, crown-group annelids do not appear until the latest Cambrian. Here we apply a different data source, the presence versus absence of specific microRNAs—genes that encode approximately 22 nucleotide non-coding regulatory RNAs—to the problem of annelid phylogenetics. We show that annelids are monophyletic with respect to sipunculans, and polychaetes are paraphyletic with respect to the clitellate Lumbricus, conclusions that are consistent with the fossil record. Further, sipunculans resolve as the sister group of the annelids, rooting the annelid tree, and revealing the polarity of the morphological change within this diverse lineage of animals.
molecular palaeobiology; phylogeny; non-coding RNA
Hemerythrins, are the non-heme, diiron binding respiratory proteins of brachiopods, priapulids and sipunculans; they are also found in annelids and bacteria, where their functions have not been fully elucidated.
A search for putative Hrs in the genomes of 43 archaea, 444 bacteria and 135 eukaryotes, revealed their presence in 3 archaea, 118 bacteria, several fungi, one apicomplexan, a heterolobosan, a cnidarian and several annelids. About a fourth of the Hr sequences were identified as N- or C-terminal domains of chimeric, chemotactic gene regulators. The function of the remaining single domain bacterial Hrs remains to be determined. In addition to oxygen transport, the possible functions in annelids have been proposed to include cadmium-binding, antibacterial action and immunoprotection. A Bayesian phylogenetic tree revealed a split into two clades, one encompassing archaea, bacteria and fungi, and the other comprising the remaining eukaryotes. The annelid and sipunculan Hrs share the same intron-exon structure, different from that of the cnidarian Hr.
The phylogenomic profile of Hrs demonstrated a limited occurrence in bacteria and archaea and a marked absence in the vast majority of multicellular organisms. Among the metazoa, Hrs have survived in a cnidarian and in a few protostome groups; hence, it appears that in metazoans the Hr gene was lost in deuterostome ancestor(s) after the radiata/bilateria split. Signal peptide sequences in several Hirudinea Hrs suggest for the first time, the possibility of extracellular localization. Since the α-helical bundle is likely to have been among the earliest protein folds, Hrs represent an ancient family of iron-binding proteins, whose primary function in bacteria may have been that of an oxygen sensor, enabling aerophilic or aerophobic responses. Although Hrs evolved to function as O2 transporters in brachiopods, priapulids and sipunculans, their function in annelids remains to be elucidated. Overall Hrs exhibit a considerable lack of evolutionary success in metazoans.
Tubifex tubifex is a widespread annelid characterized by considerable variability in its taxonomic characteristics and by a mixed reproductive strategy, with both parthenogenesis and biparental reproduction. In a molecular phylogenetic analysis, we detected substantial genetic variability among sympatric Tubifex spp. from the Lambro River (Milano, Italy), which we suggested comprise several cryptic species. To gain insights into the evolutionary events that generated this differentiation, we performed a cytogenetic analysis in parallel with a molecular assay. Approximately 80 cocoons of T. tubifex and T. blanchardi were collected and dissected. For each cocoon, we sequenced a fragment of the 16S rRNA from half of the sibling embryos and karyotyped the other half. To generate a robust phylogeny enabling the reconstruction of the evolutionary processes shaping the diversity of these sympatric lineages, we complemented our original 16S rRNA gene sequences with additional COI sequences.
The chromosome number distribution was consistent with the presence of at least six sympatric euploid chromosome complements (one diploid, one triploid, three tetraploids and one hexaploid), as confirmed by a FISH assay performed with an homologous 18S rDNA probe. All the worms with 2n = 50 chromosomes belonged to an already identified sibling species of T. tubifex, T. blanchardi. The six euploid sets were coherently arranged in the phylogeny, with each lineage grouping specimens with the same chromosome complement.
These results are compatible with the hypothesis that multiple polyploidization events, possibly enhanced by parthenogenesis, may have driven the evolution of the T. tubifex species complex.
Tubifex; Polyploidy; Speciation; Cryptic species; Reproduction; Cytogenetics; Molecular phylogenetics
The new animal phylogeny established several taxa which were not identified by morphological analyses, most prominently the Ecdysozoa (arthropods, roundworms, priapulids and others) and Lophotrochozoa (molluscs, annelids, brachiopods and others). Lophotrochozoan interrelationships are under discussion, e.g. regarding the position of Nemertea (ribbon worms), which were discussed to be sister group to e.g. Mollusca, Brachiozoa or Platyhelminthes. Mitochondrial genomes contributed well with sequence data and gene order characters to the deep metazoan phylogeny debate.
In this study we present the first complete mitochondrial genome record for a member of the Nemertea, Lineus viridis. Except two trnP and trnT, all genes are located on the same strand. While gene order is most similar to that of the brachiopod Terebratulina retusa, sequence based analyses of mitochondrial genes place nemerteans close to molluscs, phoronids and entoprocts without clear preference for one of these taxa as sister group.
Almost all recent analyses with large datasets show good support for a taxon comprising Annelida, Mollusca, Brachiopoda, Phoronida and Nemertea. But the relationships among these taxa vary between different studies. The analysis of gene order differences gives evidence for a multiple independent occurrence of a large inversion in the mitochondrial genome of Lophotrochozoa and a re-inversion of the same part in gastropods. We hypothesize that some regions of the genome have a higher chance for intramolecular recombination than others and gene order data have to be analysed carefully to detect convergent rearrangement events.
Mitochondria contain small genomes that are physically separate from those of nuclei. Their comparison serves as a model system for understanding the processes of genome evolution. Although hundreds of these genome sequences have been reported, the taxonomic sampling is highly biased toward vertebrates and arthropods, with many whole phyla remaining unstudied. This is the first description of a complete mitochondrial genome sequence of a representative of the phylum Echiura, that of the fat innkeeper worm, Urechis caupo.
This mtDNA is 15,113 nts in length and 62% A+T. It contains the 37 genes that are typical for animal mtDNAs in an arrangement somewhat similar to that of annelid worms. All genes are encoded by the same DNA strand which is rich in A and C relative to the opposite strand. Codons ending with the dinucleotide GG are more frequent than would be expected from apparent mutational biases. The largest non-coding region is only 282 nts long, is 71% A+T, and has potential for secondary structures.
Urechis caupo mtDNA shares many features with those of the few studied annelids, including the common usage of ATG start codons, unusual among animal mtDNAs, as well as gene arrangements, tRNA structures, and codon usage biases.
mtDNA; evolution; gene rearrangement; annelid; strand skew
Sequence data and other characters from mitochondrial genomes (gene translocations, secondary structure of RNA molecules) are useful in phylogenetic studies among metazoan animals from population to phylum level. Moreover, the comparison of complete mitochondrial sequences gives valuable information about the evolution of small genomes, e.g. about different mechanisms of gene translocation, gene duplication and gene loss, or concerning nucleotide frequency biases.
The Peracarida (gammarids, isopods, etc.) comprise about 21,000 species of crustaceans, living in many environments from deep sea floor to arid terrestrial habitats. Ligia oceanica is a terrestrial isopod living at rocky seashores of the european North Sea and Atlantic coastlines.
The study reveals the first complete mitochondrial DNA sequence from a peracarid crustacean. The mitochondrial genome of Ligia oceanica is a circular double-stranded DNA molecule, with a size of 15,289 bp. It shows several changes in mitochondrial gene order compared to other crustacean species. An overview about mitochondrial gene order of all crustacean taxa yet sequenced is also presented. The largest non-coding part (the putative mitochondrial control region) of the mitochondrial genome of Ligia oceanica is unexpectedly not AT-rich compared to the remainder of the genome. It bears two repeat regions (4× 10 bp and 3× 64 bp), and a GC-rich hairpin-like secondary structure. Some of the transfer RNAs show secondary structures which derive from the usual cloverleaf pattern. While some tRNA genes are putative targets for RNA editing, trnR could not be localized at all.
Gene order is not conserved among Peracarida, not even among isopods. The two isopod species Ligia oceanica and Idotea baltica show a similarly derived gene order, compared to the arthropod ground pattern and to the amphipod Parhyale hawaiiensis, suggesting that most of the translocation events were already present the last common ancestor of these isopods. Beyond that, the positions of three tRNA genes differ in the two isopod species. Strand bias in nucleotide frequency is reversed in both isopod species compared to other Malacostraca. This is probably due to a reversal of the replication origin, which is further supported by the fact that the hairpin structure typically found in the control region shows a reversed orientation in the isopod species, compared to other crustaceans.
Nilaparvata lugens (the brown planthopper, BPH) and Laodelphax striatellus (the small brown planthopper, SBPH) are two of the most important pests of rice. Up to now, there was only one mitochondrial genome of rice planthopper has been sequenced and very few dependable information of mitochondria could be used for research on population genetics, phylogeographics and phylogenetic evolution of these pests. To get more valuable information from the mitochondria, we sequenced the complete mitochondrial genomes of BPH and SBPH. These two planthoppers were infected with two different functional Wolbachia (intracellular endosymbiont) strains (wLug and wStri). Since both mitochondria and Wolbachia are transmitted by cytoplasmic inheritance and it was difficult to separate them when purified the Wolbachia particles, concomitantly sequencing the genome of Wolbachia using next generation sequencing method, we also got nearly complete mitochondrial genome sequences of these two rice planthoppers. After gap closing, we present high quality and reliable complete mitochondrial genomes of these two planthoppers.
The mitogenomes of N. lugens (BPH) and L. striatellus (SBPH) are 17, 619 bp and 16, 431 bp long with A + T contents of 76.95% and 77.17%, respectively. Both species have typical circular mitochondrial genomes that encode the complete set of 37 genes which are usually found in metazoans. However, the BPH mitogenome also possesses two additional copies of the trnC gene. In both mitochondrial genomes, the lengths of the atp8 gene were conspicuously shorter than that of all other known insect mitochondrial genomes (99 bp for BPH, 102 bp for SBPH). That two rearrangement regions (trnC-trnW and nad6-trnP-trnT) of mitochondrial genomes differing from other known insect were found in these two distantly related planthoppers revealed that the gene order of mitochondria might be conservative in Delphacidae. The large non-coding fragment (the A+T-rich region) putatively corresponding responsible for the control of replication and transcription of mitochondria contained a variable number of tandem repeats (VNTRs) block in different natural individuals of these two planthoppers. Comparison with a previously sequenced individual of SBPH revealed that the mitochondrial genetic variation within a species exists not only in the sequence and secondary structure of genes, but also in the gene order (the different location of trnH gene).
The mitochondrial genome arrangement pattern found in planthoppers was involved in rearrangements of both tRNA genes and protein-coding genes (PCGs). Different species from different genera of Delphacidae possessing the same mitochondrial gene rearrangement suggests that gene rearrangements of mitochondrial genome probably occurred before the differentiation of this family. After comparatively analyzing the gene order of different species of Hemiptera, we propose that except for some specific taxonomical group (e.g. the whiteflies) the gene order might have diversified in family level of this order. The VNTRs detected in the control region might provide additional genetic markers for studying population genetics, individual difference and phylogeographics of planthoppers.
The apparent scarcity of available sequence data has greatly impeded evolutionary studies in Acari (mites and ticks). This subclass encompasses over 48,000 species and forms the largest group within the Arachnida. Although mitochondrial genomes are widely utilised for phylogenetic and population genetic studies, only 20 mitochondrial genomes of Acari have been determined, of which only one belongs to the diverse order of the Sarcoptiformes. In this study, we describe the mitochondrial genome of the European house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, the most important member of this largely neglected group.
The mitochondrial genome of D. pteronyssinus is a circular DNA molecule of 14,203 bp. It contains the complete set of 37 genes (13 protein coding genes, 2 rRNA genes and 22 tRNA genes), usually present in metazoan mitochondrial genomes. The mitochondrial gene order differs considerably from that of other Acari mitochondrial genomes. Compared to the mitochondrial genome of Limulus polyphemus, considered as the ancestral arthropod pattern, only 11 of the 38 gene boundaries are conserved. The majority strand has a 72.6% AT-content but a GC-skew of 0.194. This skew is the reverse of that normally observed for typical animal mitochondrial genomes. A microsatellite was detected in a large non-coding region (286 bp), which probably functions as the control region. Almost all tRNA genes lack a T-arm, provoking the formation of canonical cloverleaf tRNA-structures, and both rRNA genes are considerably reduced in size. Finally, the genomic sequence was used to perform a phylogenetic study. Both maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference analysis clustered D. pteronyssinus with Steganacarus magnus, forming a sistergroup of the Trombidiformes.
Although the mitochondrial genome of D. pteronyssinus shares different features with previously characterised Acari mitochondrial genomes, it is unique in many ways. Gene order is extremely rearranged and represents a new pattern within the Acari. Both tRNAs and rRNAs are truncated, corroborating the theory of the functional co-evolution of these molecules. Furthermore, the strong and reversed GC- and AT-skews suggest the inversion of the control region as an evolutionary event. Finally, phylogenetic analysis using concatenated mt gene sequences succeeded in recovering Acari relationships concordant with traditional views of phylogeny of Acari.
Knowledge of animal mitochondrial genomes is very important to understand their molecular evolution as well as for phylogenetic and population genetic studies. The Lepidoptera encompasses more than 160,000 described species and is one of the largest insect orders. To date only nine lepidopteran mitochondrial DNAs have been fully and two others partly sequenced. Furthermore the taxon sampling is very scant. Thus advance of lepidopteran mitogenomics deeply requires new genomes derived from a broad taxon sampling. In present work we describe the mitochondrial genome of the moth Ochrogaster lunifer.
The mitochondrial genome of O. lunifer is a circular molecule 15593 bp long. It includes the entire set of 37 genes usually present in animal mitochondrial genomes. It contains also 7 intergenic spacers. The gene order of the newly sequenced genome is that typical for Lepidoptera and differs from the insect ancestral type for the placement of trnM. The 77.84% A+T content of its α strand is the lowest among known lepidopteran genomes. The mitochondrial genome of O. lunifer exhibits one of the most marked C-skew among available insect Pterygota genomes. The protein-coding genes have typical mitochondrial start codons except for cox1 that present an unusual CGA. The O. lunifer genome exhibits the less biased synonymous codon usage among lepidopterans. Comparative genomics analysis study identified atp6, cox1, cox2 as cox3, cob, nad1, nad2, nad4, and nad5 as potential markers for population genetics/phylogenetics studies. A peculiar feature of O. lunifer mitochondrial genome it that the intergenic spacers are mostly made by repetitive sequences.
The mitochondrial genome of O. lunifer is the first representative of superfamily Noctuoidea that account for about 40% of all described Lepidoptera. New genome shares many features with other known lepidopteran genomes. It differs however for its low A+T content and marked C-skew. Compared to other lepidopteran genomes it is less biased in synonymous codon usage. Comparative evolutionary analysis of lepidopteran mitochondrial genomes allowed the identification of previously neglected coding genes as potential phylogenetic markers. Presence of repetitive elements in intergenic spacers of O. lunifer genome supports the role of DNA slippage as possible mechanism to produce spacers during replication.
Galeommatoidea is a superfamily of bivalves that exhibits remarkably diverse lifestyles. Many members of this group live attached to the body surface or inside the burrows of other marine invertebrates, including crustaceans, holothurians, echinoids, cnidarians, sipunculans and echiurans. These symbiotic species exhibit high host specificity, commensal interactions with hosts, and extreme morphological and behavioral adaptations to symbiotic life. Host specialization to various animal groups has likely played an important role in the evolution and diversification of this bivalve group. However, the evolutionary pathway that led to their ecological diversity is not well understood, in part because of their reduced and/or highly modified morphologies that have confounded traditional taxonomy. This study elucidates the taxonomy of the Galeommatoidea and their evolutionary history of symbiotic lifestyle based on a molecular phylogenic analysis of 33 galeommatoidean and five putative galeommatoidean species belonging to 27 genera and three families using two nuclear ribosomal genes (18S and 28S ribosomal DNA) and a nuclear (histone H3) and mitochondrial (cytochrome oxidase subunit I) protein-coding genes.
Molecular phylogeny recovered six well-supported major clades within Galeommatoidea. Symbiotic species were found in all major clades, whereas free-living species were grouped into two major clades. Species symbiotic with crustaceans, holothurians, sipunculans, and echiurans were each found in multiple major clades, suggesting that host specialization to these animal groups occurred repeatedly in Galeommatoidea.
Our results suggest that the evolutionary history of host association in Galeommatoidea has been remarkably dynamic, involving frequent host switches between different animal phyla. Such an unusual pattern of dynamic host switching is considered to have resulted from their commensalistic lifestyle, in which they maintain filter-feeding habits even in symbiotic habitats. The results of the molecular phylogenetic analysis did not correspond with the current taxonomic circumscription. Galeommatidae and Lasaeidae were polyphyletic, and Basterotia, which is traditionally assigned to Cyamioidea, formed a monophyletic clade within Galeommatoidea.
Bivalvia; Commensalism; Diversification; Galeommatoidea; Parallel evolution; Symbiosis; Host specialization; Host switching
Mitochondrial DNA sequences are extensively used as genetic markers not only for studies of population or ecological genetics, but also for phylogenetic and evolutionary analyses. Complete mt-sequences can reveal information about gene order and its variation, as well as gene and genome evolution when sequences from multiple phyla are compared. Mitochondrial gene order is highly variable among mollusks, with bivalves exhibiting the most variability. Of the 41 complete mt genomes sequenced so far, 12 are from bivalves. We determined, in the current study, the complete mitochondrial DNA sequence of Crassostrea hongkongensis. We present here an analysis of features of its gene content and genome organization in comparison with two other Crassostrea species to assess the variation within bivalves and among main groups of mollusks.
The complete mitochondrial genome of C. hongkongensis was determined using long PCR and a primer walking sequencing strategy with genus-specific primers. The genome is 16,475 bp in length and contains 12 protein-coding genes (the atp8 gene is missing, as in most bivalves), 22 transfer tRNA genes (including a suppressor tRNA gene), and 2 ribosomal RNA genes, all of which appear to be transcribed from the same strand. A striking finding of this study is that a DNA segment containing four tRNA genes (trnk1, trnC, trnQ1 and trnN) and two duplicated or split rRNA gene (rrnL5' and rrnS) are absent from the genome, when compared with that of two other extant Crassostrea species, which is very likely a consequence of loss of a single genomic region present in ancestor of C. hongkongensis. It indicates this region seem to be a "hot spot" of genomic rearrangements over the Crassostrea mt-genomes. The arrangement of protein-coding genes in C. hongkongensis is identical to that of Crassostrea gigas and Crassostrea virginica, but higher amino acid sequence identities are shared between C. hongkongensis and C. gigas than between other pairs. There exists significant codon bias, favoring codons ending in A or T and against those ending with C. Pair analysis of genome rearrangements showed that the rearrangement distance is great between C. gigas-C. hongkongensis and C. virginica, indicating a high degree of rearrangements within Crassostrea. The determination of complete mt-genome of C. hongkongensis has yielded useful insight into features of gene order, variation, and evolution of Crassostrea and bivalve mt-genomes.
The mt-genome of C. hongkongensis shares some similarity with, and interesting differences to, other Crassostrea species and bivalves. The absence of trnC and trnN genes and duplicated or split rRNA genes from the C. hongkongensis genome is a completely novel feature not previously reported in Crassostrea species. The phenomenon is likely due to the loss of a segment that is present in other Crassostrea species and was present in ancestor of C. hongkongensis, thus a case of "tandem duplication-random loss (TDRL)". The mt-genome and new feature presented here reveal and underline the high level variation of gene order and gene content in Crassostrea and bivalves, inspiring more research to gain understanding to mechanisms underlying gene and genome evolution in bivalves and mollusks.
The phylogenetic position of pycnogonids is a long-standing and controversial issue in arthropod phylogeny. This controversy has recently been rekindled by differences in the conclusions based on neuroanatomical data concerning the chelifore and the patterns of Hox expression. The mitochondrial genome of a sea spider, Nymphon gracile (Pycnogonida, Nymphonidae), was recently reported in an attempt to address this issue. However, N. gracile appears to be a long-branch taxon on the phylogenetic tree and exhibits a number of peculiar features, such as 10 tRNA translocations and even an inversion of several protein-coding genes. Sequences of other pycnogonid mitochondrial genomes are needed if the position of pycnogonids is to be elucidated on this basis.
The complete mitochondrial genome (15,474 bp) of a sea spider (Achelia bituberculata) belonging to the family Ammotheidae, which combines a number of anatomical features considered plesiomorphic with respect to other pycnogonids, was sequenced and characterized. The genome organization shows the features typical of most metazoan animal genomes (37 tightly-packed genes). The overall gene arrangement is completely identical to the arthropod ground pattern, with one exception: the position of the trnQ gene between the rrnS gene and the control region. Maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference trees inferred from the amino acid sequences of mitochondrial protein-coding genes consistently indicate that the pycnogonids (A. bituberculata and N. gracile) may be closely related to the clade of Acari and Araneae.
The complete mitochondrial genome sequence of A. bituberculata (Family Ammotheidae) and the previously-reported partial sequence of Endeis spinosa show the gene arrangement patterns typical of arthropods (Limulus-like), but they differ markedly from that of N. gracile. Phylogenetic analyses based on mitochondrial protein-coding genes showed that Pycnogonida may be authentic arachnids (= aquatic arachnids) within Chelicerata sensu lato, as indicated by the name 'sea spider,' and suggest that the Cormogonida theory – that the pycnogonids are a sister group of all other arthropods – should be rejected. However, in view of the relatively weak node confidence, strand-biased nucleotide composition and long-branch attraction artifact, further more intensive studies seem necessary to resolve the exact position of the pycnogonids.
Animal mitochondrial genomes are physically separate from the much larger nuclear genomes and have proven useful both for phylogenetic studies and for understanding genome evolution. Within the phylum Arthropoda the subphylum Crustacea includes over 50,000 named species with immense variation in body plans and habitats, yet only 23 complete mitochondrial genomes are available from this subphylum.
I describe here the complete mitochondrial genome of the crustacean Squilla mantis (Crustacea: Malacostraca: Stomatopoda). This 15994-nucleotide genome, the first described from a hoplocarid, contains the standard complement of 13 protein-coding genes, 22 transfer RNA genes, two ribosomal RNA genes, and a non-coding AT-rich region that is found in most other metazoans. The gene order is identical to that considered ancestral for hexapods and crustaceans. The 70% AT base composition is within the range described for other arthropods. A single unusual feature of the genome is a 230 nucleotide non-coding region between a serine transfer RNA and the nad1 gene, which has no apparent function.
I also compare gene order, nucleotide composition, and codon usage of the S. mantis genome and eight other malacostracan crustaceans. A translocation of the histidine transfer RNA gene is shared by three taxa in the order Decapoda, infraorder Brachyura; Callinectes sapidus, Portunus trituberculatus and Pseudocarcinus gigas. This translocation may be diagnostic for the Brachyura. For all nine taxa nucleotide composition is biased towards AT-richness, as expected for arthropods, and is within the range reported for other arthropods. Codon usage is biased, and much of this bias is probably due to the skew in nucleotide composition towards AT-richness.
The mitochondrial genome of Squilla mantis contains one unusual feature, a 230 base pair non-coding region has so far not been described in any other malacostracan. Comparisons with other Malacostraca show that all nine genomes, like most other mitochondrial genomes, share a bias toward AT-richness and a related bias in codon usage. The nine malacostracans included in this analysis are not representative of the diversity of the class Malacostraca, and additional malacostracan sequences would surely reveal other unusual genomic features that could be useful in understanding mitochondrial evolution in this taxon.
The phylogenetic position of the Protura, traditionally considered the most basal hexapod group, is disputed because it has many unique morphological characters compared with other hexapods. Although mitochondrial genome information has been used extensively in phylogenetic studies, such information is not available for the Protura. This has impeded phylogenetic studies on this taxon, as well as the evolution of the arthropod mitochondrial genome.
In this study, the mitochondrial genome of Sinentomon erythranum was sequenced, as the first proturan species to be reported. The genome contains a number of special features that differ from those of other hexapods and arthropods. As a very small arthropod mitochondrial genome, its 14,491 nucleotides encode 37 typical mitochondrial genes. Compared with other metazoan mtDNA, it has the most biased nucleotide composition with T = 52.4%, an extreme and reversed AT-skew of -0.351 and a GC-skew of 0.350. Two tandemly repeated regions occur in the A+T-rich region, and both could form stable stem-loop structures. Eighteen of the 22 tRNAs are greatly reduced in size with truncated secondary structures. The gene order is novel among available arthropod mitochondrial genomes. Rearrangements have involved in not only small tRNA genes, but also PCGs (protein-coding genes) and ribosome RNA genes. A large block of genes has experienced inversion and another nearby block has been reshuffled, which can be explained by the tandem duplication and random loss model. The most remarkable finding is that trnL2(UUR) is not located between cox1 and cox2 as observed in most hexapod and crustacean groups, but is between rrnL and nad1 as in the ancestral arthropod ground pattern. The "cox1-cox2" pattern was further confirmed in three more representative proturan species. The phylogenetic analyses based on the amino acid sequences of 13 mitochondrial PCGs suggest S. erythranum failed to group with other hexapod groups.
The mitochondrial genome of S. erythranum shows many different features from other hexapod and arthropod mitochondrial genomes. It underwent highly divergent evolution. The "cox1-cox2" pattern probably represents the ancestral state for all proturan mitogenomes, and suggests a long evolutionary history for the Protura.
The insect order Neuroptera encompasses more than 5,700 described species. To date, only three neuropteran mitochondrial genomes have been fully and one partly sequenced. Current knowledge on neuropteran mitochondrial genomes is limited, and new data are strongly required. In the present work, the mitochondrial genome of the ascalaphid owlfly Libelloides macaronius is described and compared with the known neuropterid mitochondrial genomes: Megaloptera, Neuroptera and Raphidioptera. These analyses are further extended to other endopterygotan orders.
The mitochondrial genome of L. macaronius is a circular molecule 15,890 bp long. It includes the entire set of 37 genes usually present in animal mitochondrial genomes. The gene order of this newly sequenced genome is unique among Neuroptera and differs from the ancestral type of insects in the translocation of trnC. The L. macaronius genome shows the lowest A+T content (74.50%) among known neuropterid genomes. Protein-coding genes possess the typical mitochondrial start codons, except for cox1, which has an unusual ACG. Comparisons among endopterygotan mitochondrial genomes showed that A+T content and AT/GC-skews exhibit a broad range of variation among 84 analyzed taxa. Comparative analyses showed that neuropterid mitochondrial protein-coding genes experienced complex evolutionary histories, involving features ranging from codon usage to rate of substitution, that make them potential markers for population genetics/phylogenetics studies at different taxonomic ranks. The 22 tRNAs show variable substitution patterns in Neuropterida, with higher sequence conservation in genes located on the α strand. Inferred secondary structures for neuropterid rrnS and rrnL genes largely agree with those known for other insects. For the first time, a model is provided for domain I of an insect rrnL. The control region in Neuropterida, as in other insects, is fast-evolving genomic region, characterized by AT-rich motifs.
The new genome shares many features with known neuropteran genomes but differs in its low A+T content. Comparative analysis of neuropterid mitochondrial genes showed that they experienced distinct evolutionary patterns. Both tRNA families and ribosomal RNAs show composite substitution pathways. The neuropterid mitochondrial genome is characterized by a complex evolutionary history.