Evidence for Recombination of mtDNA in the Marine Mussel Mytilus trossulus from the Baltic

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A number of studies have claimed that recombination occurs in animal mtDNA, although this evidence is controversial. Ladoukakis and Zouros (2001) provided strong evidence for mtDNA recombination in the COIII gene in gonadal tissue in the marine mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis from the Black Sea. The recombinant molecules they reported had not however become established in the population from which experimental animals were sampled. In the present study, we provide further evidence of the generality of mtDNA recombination in Mytilus by reporting recombinant mtDNA molecules in a related mussel species, Mytilus trossulus, from the Baltic. The mtDNA region studied begins in the 16S rRNA gene and terminates in the cytochrome b gene and includes a major noncoding region that may be analogous to the D-loop region observed in other animals. Many bivalve species, including some Mytilus species, are unusual in that they have two mtDNA genomes, one of which is inherited maternally (F genome) the other inherited paternally (M genome). Two recombinant variants reported in the present study have population frequencies of 5% and 36% and appear to be mosaic for F-like and M-like sequences. However, both variants have the noncoding region from the M genome, and both are transmitted to sperm like the M genome. We speculate that acquisition of the noncoding region by the recombinant molecules has conferred a paternal role on mtDNA genomes that otherwise resemble the F genome in sequence

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