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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2012 Apr;63(1):203-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.12.009. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Rapid evolution of the compact and unusual mitochondrial genome in the ctenophore, Pleurobrachia bachei.

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The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida, St. Augustine, FL 32080, USA.


Ctenophores are one of the most basally branching lineages of metazoans with the largest mitochondrial organelles in the animal kingdom. We sequenced the mitochondrial (mtDNA) genome from the Pacific cidipid ctenophore, Pleurobrachia bachei. The circular mitochondrial genome is 11,016 nts, with only 12 genes, and one of the smallest metazoan mtDNA genomes recorded. The protein coding genes are intronless cox1-3, cob, nad1, 3, 4, 4L and 5. The nad2 and 6 genes are represented as short fragments whereas the atp6 gene was found in the nuclear genome. Only the large ribosomal RNA subunit and two tRNAs were present with possibly the small subunit unidentifiable due to extensive fragmentation. The observed unique features of this mitochondrial genome suggest that nuclear and mitochondrial genomes have evolved at very different rates. This reduced mtDNA genome sharply contrasts with the very large sizes of mtDNA found in other basal metazoans including Porifera (sponges), and Placozoa (Trichoplax).

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