Mitochondrial genes and whole mitochondrial genome sequences are widely used as molecular markers in studying population genetics and resolving both deep and shallow nodes in phylogenetics. In animals the mitochondrial genome is generally composed of a single chromosome, but mystifying exceptions sometimes occur. We determined the complete mitochondrial genome of the millipede-parasitic nematode Ruizia karukerae and found its mitochondrial genome consists of two circular chromosomes, which is highly unusual in bilateral animals. Chromosome I is 7,659 bp and includes six protein-coding genes, two rRNA genes and nine tRNA genes. Chromosome II comprises 7,647 bp, with seven protein-coding genes and 16 tRNA genes. Interestingly, both chromosomes share a 1,010 bp sequence containing duplicate copies of cox2 and three tRNA genes (trnD, trnG and trnH), and the nucleotide sequences between the duplicated homologous gene copies are nearly identical, suggesting a possible recent genesis for this bipartite mitochondrial genome. Given that little is known about the formation, maintenance or evolution of abnormal mitochondrial genome structures, R. karukerae mtDNA may provide an important early glimpse into this process.
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