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Open Access Research article

Molecular evolution of the pDo500 satellite DNA family in Dolichopoda cave crickets (Rhaphidophoridae)

Lene Martinsen1, Federica Venanzetti2, Arild Johnsen1, Valerio Sbordoni3 and Lutz Bachmann1*

Author Affiliations

1 National Centre of Biosystematics, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, 0318 Oslo, Norway

2 Via Giuseppe Berto 31, 00142 Rome, Italy

3 Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Via della Ricerca Scientifica, 00133 Rome, Italy

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2009, 9:301  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-301

Published: 28 December 2009



Non-coding satellite DNA (satDNA) usually has a high turn-over rate frequently leading to species specific patterns. However, some satDNA families evolve more slowly and can be found in several related species. Here, we analyzed the mode of evolution of the pDo500 satDNA family of Dolichopoda cave crickets. In addition, we discuss the potential of slowly evolving satDNAs as phylogenetic markers.


We sequenced 199 genomic or PCR amplified satDNA repeats of the pDo500 family from 12 Dolichopoda species. For the 38 populations under study, 39 pDo500 consensus sequences were deduced. Phylogenetic analyses using Bayesian, Maximum Parsimony, and Maximum Likelihood approaches yielded largely congruent tree topologies. The vast majority of pDo500 sequences grouped according to species designation. Scatter plots and statistical tests revealed a significant correlation between genetic distances for satDNA and mitochondrial DNA. Sliding window analyses showed species specific patterns of variable and conserved regions. The evolutionary rate of the pDo500 satDNA was estimated to be 1.63-1.78% per lineage per million years.


The pDo500 satDNA evolves gradually at a rate that is only slightly faster than previously published rates of insect mitochondrial COI sequences. The pDo500 phylogeny was basically congruent with the previously published mtDNA phylogenies. Accordingly, the slowly evolving pDo500 satDNA family is indeed informative as a phylogenetic marker.