Vertebrate mitochondrial genomes are optimized for fast replication and low cost of RNA expression. Accordingly, they are devoid of introns, are transcribed as polycistrons and contain very little intergenic sequences. Usually, vertebrate mitochondrial genomes measure between 16.5 and 17 kilobases (kb).During genome sequencing projects for two novel vertebrate models, the invasive round goby and the sand goby, we found that the sand goby genome is exceptionally small (16.4 kb), while the mitochondrial genome of the round goby is much larger than expected for a vertebrate. It is 19 kb in size and is thus one of the largest fish and even vertebrate mitochondrial genomes known to date. The expansion is attributable to a sequence insertion downstream of the putative transcriptional start site. This insertion carries traces of repeats from the control region, but is mostly novel. To get more information about this phenomenon, we gathered all available mitochondrial genomes of Gobiidae and of nine gobioid species, performed phylogenetic analyses, analysed gene arrangements, and compared gobiid mitochondrial genome sizes, ecological information and other species characteristics with respect to the mitochondrial phylogeny. This allowed us amongst others to identify a unique arrangement of tRNAs among Ponto-Caspian gobies.Our results indicate that the round goby mitochondrial genome may contain novel features. Since mitochondrial genome organisation is tightly linked to energy metabolism, these features may be linked to its invasion success. Also, the unique tRNA arrangement among Ponto-Caspian gobies may be helpful in studying the evolution of this highly adaptive and invasive species group. Finally, we find that the phylogeny of gobiids can be further refined by the use of longer stretches of linked DNA sequence.
Journal: BMC genomics