Journal Article

Red Algae Lose Key Mitochondrial Genes in Response to Becoming Parasitic

Lillian Hancock, Lynda Goff and Christopher Lane

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 2, issue , pages 897-910
Published in print January 2010 |
Published online November 2010 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

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Red algal parasites are unusual because the vast majority of them parasitize species with which they share a recent common ancestor. This strategy has earned them the name “adelphoparasites,” from the Greek, adelpho, meaning “kin.” Intracellular adelphoparasites are very rare in nature, yet have independently evolved hundreds of times among the floridiophyte red algae. Much is known about the life history and infection cycle of these parasites but nearly nothing in known about their genomes. We sequenced the mitochondrial genomes of the free-living Gracilariopsis andersonii and its closely related parasite Gracilariophila oryzoides to determine what effect a parasitic lifestyle has on the genomes of red algal parasites. Whereas the parasite genome is similar to the host in many ways, the genes encoding essential proteins ATP8 and SDHC are pseudogenes in the parasite. The mitochondrial genome of parasite from a different class of red algae, Plocamiocolax puvinata, has lost the atp8 gene entirely, indicating that this gene is no longer critical in red algal parasite mitochondria.

Keywords: comparative genomics; mitochondria; red algae; parasitism; genome evolution; atp8

Journal Article.  7237 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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