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.