Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 526–537 | Cite as

Evolution of the Mitochondrial Genome in Cephalochordata as Inferred from Complete Nucleotide Sequences from Two Epigonichthys Species

  • Masahiro Nohara
  • Mutsumi Nishida
  • Masaki Miya
  • Teruaki Nishikawa


Complete mitochondrial (mt) DNA sequences of two lancelets, Epigonichthys maldivensis and E. lucayanus, were compared with those of two Branchiostoma lancelets and several deuterostomes previously surveyed. The mt-gene order of E. lucayanus was quite different from that of E. maldivensis, the latter being identical to the two Branchiostoma species. A remarkable genomic change in E. lucayanus mtDNA was an inversion, indicating the possibility of recombination of the mt-genome. Gene rearrangements, probably attributable to tandem genome duplications and subsequent random deletions, were observed in two parts. Short major unassignable sequences of the examined lancelets were regarded as a part of putative regulative elements, judging from some sequence similarity to the conserved sequence block (CSB) in mammalian mtDNA. The considerable mt-genome reorganization in E. lucayanus seemed to have affected the nucleotide substitution pattern, suggested by base composition analyses. The present analysis also suggested that AGR codons in lancelet mtDNA were likely to correspond to serine residue, rather than glycine. Furthermore, the AGG codon, so far reputed to be unassignable in lancelet mtDNA, was found twice in E. maldivensis, indicating the availability of all four AGN codons in some lancelets. This finding lends support to an alternative hypothesis regarding the evolutionary history of AGR-codon assignment in extant chordates, rather than that previously proposed. A molecular phylogenetic tree of the Epigonichthys and Branchiostoma species based on DNA sequences of the 13 mt-protein genes doubted the monophyly of the former genus, unlike the prevailing classification based on their different gonadal arrangements.


Lancelet Epigonichthys Complete mtDNA sequence Mitochondrial-genome evolution 



We appreciate the kind assistance of Mr. Tetsuya Kondo and Mr. Masahiko Kotera during sampling undertaken at Kuroshima Island. We are grateful to Drs. Akira Kawaguchi, Jun Kitaura, Ms. Mayu S. Shikatani, and Mr. Junpei Iwanaga for sharing their unpublished primers. We thank Drs. Yoshinori Kumazawa, Shin-ichi Yokobori, and anonymous referees for their critical comments on the early version of this paper. This study was financially supported by Grants-in-Aid from JSPS (Nos. 13440253, 16370044, and 12NP0201).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masahiro Nohara
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mutsumi Nishida
    • 2
  • Masaki Miya
    • 3
  • Teruaki Nishikawa
    • 4
  1. 1.Yokohama R&D Center, HITEC Co., Ltd.Naka-ku, YokohamaJapan
  2. 2.Ocean Research InstituteUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyNatural History Museum and InstituteChuo-kuJapan
  4. 4.The Nagoya University MuseumNagoya UniversityChikusa, NagoyaJapan

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