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Proc Biol Sci. 2002 Feb 22;269(1489):345-50.

Mitochondrial gene rearrangements confirm the parallel evolution of the crab-like form.

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  • 1Department of Fisheries Science, School of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, VA 23062, USA.


The repeated appearance of strikingly similar crab-like forms in independent decapod crustacean lineages represents a remarkable case of parallel evolution. Uncertainty surrounding the phylogenetic relationships among crab-like lineages has hampered evolutionary studies. As is often the case, aligned DNA sequences by themselves were unable to fully resolve these relationships. Four nested mitochondrial gene rearrangements--including one of the few reported movements of an arthropod protein-coding gene--are congruent with the DNA phylogeny and help to resolve a crucial node. A phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequences, and gene rearrangements, supported five independent origins of the crab-like form, and suggests that the evolution of the crab-like form may be irreversible. This result supports the utility of mitochondrial gene rearrangements in phylogenetic reconstruction.

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