Journal Article

The Mitochondrial Genome and Transcriptome of the Basal Dinoflagellate <i>Hematodinium</i> sp.: Character Evolution within the Highly Derived Mitochondrial Genomes of Dinoflagellates

C. J. Jackson, S. G. Gornik and R. F. Waller

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 4, issue 1, pages 59-72
Published in print January 2012 |
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gbe/evr122

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The sister phyla dinoflagellates and apicomplexans inherited a drastically reduced mitochondrial genome (mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA) containing only three protein-coding (cob, cox1, and cox3) genes and two ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes. In apicomplexans, single copies of these genes are encoded on the smallest known mtDNA chromosome (6 kb). In dinoflagellates, however, the genome has undergone further substantial modifications, including massive genome amplification and recombination resulting in multiple copies of each gene and gene fragments linked in numerous combinations. Furthermore, protein-encoding genes have lost standard stop codons, trans-splicing of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) is required to generate complete cox3 transcripts, and extensive RNA editing recodes most genes. From taxa investigated to date, it is unclear when many of these unusual dinoflagellate mtDNA characters evolved. To address this question, we investigated the mitochondrial genome and transcriptome character states of the deep branching dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. Genomic data show that like later-branching dinoflagellates Hematodinium sp. also contains an inflated, heavily recombined genome of multicopy genes and gene fragments. Although stop codons are also lacking for cox1 and cob, cox3 still encodes a conventional stop codon. Extensive editing of mRNAs also occurs in Hematodinium sp. The mtDNA of basal dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. indicates that much of the mtDNA modification in dinoflagellates occurred early in this lineage, including genome amplification and recombination, and decreased use of standard stop codons. Trans-splicing, on the other hand, occurred after Hematodinium sp. diverged. Only RNA editing presents a nonlinear pattern of evolution in dinoflagellates as this process occurs in Hematodinium sp. but is absent in some later-branching taxa indicating that this process was either lost in some lineages or developed more than once during the evolution of the highly unusual dinoflagellate mtDNA.

Keywords: mitochondrion; Apicomplexa; RNA editing; organelle genome

Journal Article.  8437 words.  Illustrated.

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

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