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Mol Biol Evol. 1987 Nov;4(6):638-50.

Analysis of nucleotide substitutions of mitochondrial DNAs in Drosophila melanogaster and its sibling species.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Ochanomizu University, Tokyo, Japan.


To study the rate and pattern of nucleotide substitution in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), we cloned and sequenced a 975-bp segment of mtDNA from Drosophila melanogaster, D. simulans, and D. mauritiana containing the genes for three transfer RNAs and parts of two protein-coding genes, ND2 and COI. Statistical analysis of synonymous substitutions revealed a predominance of transitions over transversions among the three species, a finding differing from previous results obtained from a comparison of D. melanogaster and D. yakuba. The number of transitions observed was nearly the same for each species comparison, including D. yakuba, despite the differences in divergence times. However, transversions seemed to increase steadily with increasing divergence time. By contrast, nonsynonymous substitutions in the ND2 gene showed a predominance of transversions over transitions. Most transversions were between A and T and seemed to be due to some kind of mutational bias to which the A + T-rich mtDNA of Drosophila species may be subject. The overall rate of nucleotide substitution in Drosophila mtDNA appears to be slightly faster (approximately 1.4 times) than that of the Adh gene. This contrasts with the result obtained for mammals, in which the mtDNA evolves approximately 10 times faster than single-copy nuclear DNA. We have also shown that the start codon of the COI gene is GTGA in D. simulans and GTAA in D. mauritiana. These codons are different from that of D. melanogaster (ATAA).

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