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Mitochondrial DNA. 2012 Dec;23(6):447-60. doi: 10.3109/19401736.2012.710203. Epub 2012 Sep 3.

Influence of certain forces on evolution of synonymous codon usage bias in certain species of three basal orders of aquatic insects.

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Department of Zoology, University of Madras, Chennai 600 025, Tamil Nadu, India.


Forces that influence the evolution of synonymous codon usage bias are analyzed in six species of three basal orders of aquatic insects. The rationale behind choosing six species of aquatic insects (three from Ephemeroptera, one from Plecoptera, and two from Odonata) for the present analysis is based on phylogenetic position at the basal clades of the Order Insecta facilitating the understanding of the evolution of codon bias and of factors shaping codon usage patterns in primitive clades of insect lineages and their subtle differences in some of their ecological and environmental requirements in terms of habitat-microhabitat requirements, altitudinal preferences, temperature tolerance ranges, and consequent responses to climate change impacts. The present analysis focuses on open reading frames of the 13 protein-coding genes in the mitochondrial genome of six carefully chosen insect species to get a comprehensive picture of the evolutionary intricacies of codon bias. In all the six species, A and T contents are observed to be significantly higher than G and C, and are used roughly equally. Since transcription hypothesis on codon usage demands A richness and T poorness, it is quite likely that mutation pressure may be the key factor associated with synonymous codon usage (SCU) variations in these species because the mutation hypothesis predicts AT richness and GC poorness in the mitochondrial DNA. Thus, AT-biased mutation pressure seems to be an important factor in framing the SCU variation in all the selected species of aquatic insects, which in turn explains the predominance of A and T ending codons in these species. This study does not find any association between microhabitats and codon usage variations in the mitochondria of selected aquatic insects. However, this study has identified major forces, such as compositional constraints and mutation pressure, which shape patterns of codon usage in mitochondrial genes in the primitive clades of insect lineages.

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