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Open Access Research article

The complete mitochondrial genome of Pseudocellus pearsei (Chelicerata: Ricinulei) and a comparison of mitochondrial gene rearrangements in Arachnida

Kathrin Fahrein1, Giovanni Talarico2, Anke Braband3 and Lars Podsiadlowski1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institut für Biologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

2 Zoologisches Institut und Museum, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Universität Greifswald, Germany

3 Institut für Biologie, Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Germany

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:386  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-386

Published: 25 October 2007

Abstract

Background

Mitochondrial genomes are widely utilized for phylogenetic and population genetic analyses among animals. In addition to sequence data the mitochondrial gene order and RNA secondary structure data are used in phylogenetic analyses. Arachnid phylogeny is still highly debated and there is a lack of sufficient sequence data for many taxa. Ricinulei (hooded tickspiders) are a morphologically distinct clade of arachnids with uncertain phylogenetic affinities.

Results

The first complete mitochondrial DNA genome of a member of the Ricinulei, Pseudocellus pearsei (Arachnida: Ricinulei) was sequenced using a PCR-based approach. The mitochondrial genome is a typical circular duplex DNA molecule with a size of 15,099 bp, showing the complete set of genes usually present in bilaterian mitochondrial genomes. Five tRNA genes (trnW, trnY, trnN, trnL(CUN), trnV) show different relative positions compared to other Chelicerata (e.g. Limulus polyphemus, Ixodes spp.). We propose that two events led to this derived gene order: (1) a tandem duplication followed by random deletion and (2) an independent translocation of trnN. Most of the inferred tRNA secondary structures show the common cloverleaf pattern except tRNA-Glu where the TψC-arm is missing. In phylogenetic analyses (maximum likelihood, maximum parsimony, Bayesian inference) using concatenated amino acid and nucleotide sequences of protein-coding genes the basal relationships of arachnid orders remain unresolved.

Conclusion

Phylogenetic analyses (ML, MP, BI) of arachnid mitochondrial genomes fail to resolve interordinal relationships of Arachnida and remain in a preliminary stage because there is still a lack of mitogenomic data from important taxa such as Opiliones and Pseudoscorpiones. Gene order varies considerably within Arachnida – only eight out of 23 species have retained the putative arthropod ground pattern. Some gene order changes are valuable characters in phylogenetic analysis of intraordinal relationships, e.g. in Acari.