Molecular Life Sciences

Living Edition
| Editors: Robert D. Wells, Judith S. Bond, Judith Klinman, Bettie Sue Siler Masters, Ellis Bell

Mitochondrial Genomes in Invertebrate Animals

Living reference work entry


Animal mtDNA is commonly described as a small, circular molecule, remarkably uniform in size, gene content, and genomic organization. The results of recent studies contradict this view and reveal substantial diversity in animal mtDNA organization. As should be expected, most of this diversity is found in non-bilaterian animals: phyla Cnidaria, Ctenophora, Placozoa, and Porifera, each of which displays a unique mode and tempo of mitochondrial genome evolution. Mitochondrial DNA in the phylum Cnidaria is characterized by low rate of sequence evolution and loss of all but one or two tRNA genes. In addition, linear mitochondrial genome architecture has evolved within this phylum. In the phylum Ctenophora, mtDNA is characterized by small size, high rate of sequence evolution, and loss of at least 24 genes, including all tRNA genes and two protein-coding genes. In the phylum Placozoa, mtDNA is large in size and contains a substantial number of introns. It also displays such unusual...


Mitochondrial Genome Genetic Code tRNA Gene Calcareous Sponge Bilaterian Animal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Burger G, Yan Y, Javadi P, Lang BF (2009) Group I-intron trans-splicing and mRNA editing in the mitochondria of placozoan animals. Trends Genet 25:381–386PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Clary DO, Wolstenholme DR (1985) The mitochondrial DNA molecule of Drosophila yakuba: nucleotide sequence, gene organization, and genetic code. J Mol Evol 22:252–271PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gazave E, Lapebie P, Renard E, Vacelet J, Rocher C, Ereskovsky AV, Lavrov DV, Borchiellini C (2010) Molecular phylogeny restores the supra-generic subdivision of homoscleromorph sponges (Porifera, Homoscleromorpha). PLoS ONE 5:e14290PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Haen KM, Lang BF, Pomponi SA, Lavrov DV (2007) Glass sponges and bilaterian animals share derived mitochondrial genomic features: a common ancestry or parallel evolution? Mol Biol Evol 24:1518–1527PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Haen KM, Pett W, Lavrov DV (2010) Parallel loss of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and mtDNA-encoded tRNAs in Cnidaria. Mol Biol Evol 27:2216–2219PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kayal E, Bentlage B, Collins AG, Kayal M, Pirro S, Lavrov DV (2011) Evolution of linear mitochondrial genomes in medusozoan cnidarians. Genome Biol Evol 4:1–12Google Scholar
  7. Lavrov D, Pett W, Voigt O, Worheide G, Forget L, Lang B, Kayal E (2013) Mitochondrial DNA of Clathrina clathrus (Calcarea, Calcinea): Six Linear Chromosomes, Fragmented rRNAs, tRNA Editing, and a Novel Genetic Code. Mol. Biol. Evol. 30:865-880Google Scholar
  8. Medina M, Collins AG, Takaoka TL, Kuehl JV, Boore JL (2006) Naked corals: skeleton loss in Scleractinia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103:9096–9100PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Pett W, Ryan JF, Pang K, Mullikin JC, Martindale MQ, Baxevanis AD, Lavrov DV (2011) Extreme mitochondrial evolution in the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi: insight from mtDNA and the nuclear genome. Mitochondrial DNA 22:130–142PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Signorovitch AY, Buss LW, Dellaporta SL (2007) Comparative genomics of large mitochondria in placozoans. PLoS Genet 3:e13PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Wang X, Lavrov D (2008) Seventeen new complete mtDNA sequences reveal extensive mitochondrial genome evolution within the Demospongiae. PLoS ONE. 3:e2723Google Scholar
  12. Zouros E, Freeman KR, Ball AO, Pogson GH (1992) Direct evidence for extensive paternal mitochondrial DNA inheritance in the marine mussel Mytilus. Nature 359:412–414PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal BiologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA