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The complete mitochondrial genome of the citrus red mite Panonychus citri (Acari: Tetranychidae): high genome rearrangement and extremely truncated tRNAs

Ming-Long Yuan, Dan-Dan Wei, Bao-Jun Wang, Wei Dou and Jin-Jun Wang*

Author Affiliations

Key Laboratory of Entomology and Pest Control Engineering, College of Plant Protection, Southwest University, Chongqing 400716, China

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:597  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-597

Published: 23 October 2010



The family Tetranychidae (Chelicerata: Acari) includes ~1200 species, many of which are of agronomic importance. To date, mitochondrial genomes of only two Tetranychidae species have been sequenced, and it has been found that these two mitochondrial genomes are characterized by many unusual features in genome organization and structure such as gene order and nucleotide frequency. The scarcity of available sequence data has greatly impeded evolutionary studies in Acari (mites and ticks). Information on Tetranychidae mitochondrial genomes is quite important for phylogenetic evaluation and population genetics, as well as the molecular evolution of functional genes such as acaricide-resistance genes. In this study, we sequenced the complete mitochondrial genome of Panonychus citri (Family Tetranychidae), a worldwide citrus pest, and provide a comparison to other Acari.


The mitochondrial genome of P. citri is a typical circular molecule of 13,077 bp, and contains the complete set of 37 genes that are usually found in metazoans. This is the smallest mitochondrial genome within all sequenced Acari and other Chelicerata, primarily due to the significant size reduction of protein coding genes (PCGs), a large rRNA gene, and the A + T-rich region. The mitochondrial gene order for P. citri is the same as those for P. ulmi and Tetranychus urticae, but distinctly different from other Acari by a series of gene translocations and/or inversions. The majority of the P. citri mitochondrial genome has a high A + T content (85.28%), which is also reflected by AT-rich codons being used more frequently, but exhibits a positive GC-skew (0.03). The Acari mitochondrial nad1 exhibits a faster amino acid substitution rate than other genes, and the variation of nucleotide substitution patterns of PCGs is significantly correlated with the G + C content. Most tRNA genes of P. citri are extremely truncated and atypical (44-65, 54.1 ± 4.1 bp), lacking either the T- or D-arm, as found in P. ulmi, T. urticae, and other Acariform mites.


The P. citri mitochondrial gene order is markedly different from those of other chelicerates, but is conserved within the family Tetranychidae indicating that high rearrangements have occurred after Tetranychidae diverged from other Acari. Comparative analyses suggest that the genome size, gene order, gene content, codon usage, and base composition are strongly variable among Acari mitochondrial genomes. While extremely small and unusual tRNA genes seem to be common for Acariform mites, further experimental evidence is needed.