, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 377-388
Date: 09 Sep 2008

Recombination in Mitochondrial DNA of European Mussels Mytilus

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Mitochondrial DNA was long believed to be purely clonal and free from recombination. Major phylogenetic studies still depend on such assumptions. The peculiar genetic system of marine mussels Mytilus in which two divergent mitochondrial genomes exist provides a unique opportunity to study mtDNA recombination. Previous reports showed the existence of a few haplotypes having very strong recombination signal in the control region of mtDNA. Those recombinant variants have been found in a Baltic Sea population of Mytilus trossulus as well as in Mytilus galloprovincialis from the Black Sea. In both cases the mosaic genomes switched their transmission route and have been inherited paternally. In the present study rearranged mtDNA genomes found in all three European Mytilus species are described. The structure of their control region is a result of intra- and intermolecular recombination between mitochondrial genomes. Together with the phylogenetic reconstruction and geographic distribution, this suggests that two interlineage recombination events have occurred in the control region of mtDNA of European mussels Mytilus. Contrary to earlier observations, some of the mosaic genomes do not show any gender bias, which has important implications regarding the transmission and evolution of blue mussel mitochondrial genomes.