Comparative genomics of mitochondria in chlorarachniophyte algae: endosymbiotic gene transfer and organellar genome dynamics

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Chlorarachniophyte algae possess four DNA-containing compartments per cell, the nucleus, mitochondrion, plastid and nucleomorph, the latter being a relic nucleus derived from a secondary endosymbiont. While the evolutionary dynamics of plastid and nucleomorph genomes have been investigated, a comparative investigation of mitochondrial genomes (mtDNAs) has not been carried out. We have sequenced the complete mtDNA of Lotharella oceanica and compared it to that of another chlorarachniophyte, Bigelowiella natans. The linear mtDNA of L. oceanica is 36.7 kbp in size and contains 35 protein genes, three rRNAs and 24 tRNAs. The codons GUG and UUG appear to be capable of acting as initiation codons in the chlorarachniophyte mtDNAs, in addition to AUG. Rpl16, rps4 and atp8 genes are missing in L.oceanica mtDNA, despite being present in B. natans mtDNA. We searched for, and found, mitochondrial rpl16 and rps4 genes with spliceosomal introns in the L. oceanica nuclear genome, indicating that mitochondrion-to-host-nucleus gene transfer occurred after the divergence of these two genera. Despite being of similar size and coding capacity, the level of synteny between L. oceanica and B. natans mtDNA is low, suggesting frequent rearrangements. Overall, our results suggest that chlorarachniophyte mtDNAs are more evolutionarily dynamic than their plastid counterparts.


  • Scientific reports

    Scientific reports (6), 21016, 2016-02

    Nature Publishing Group


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