Complete DNA Sequence of the Mitochondrial Genome of the Sea-Slug, Aplysia Californica: Conservation of the Gene Order in Euthyneura

Student Co-author

HMC Undergraduate

Document Type



Biology (HMC)

Publication Date



We have sequenced and characterized the complete mitochondrial genome of the sea slug, Aplysia californica, an important model organism in experimental biology and a representative of Anaspidea (Opisthobranchia, Gastropoda). The mitochondrial genome of Aplysia is in the small end of the observed sizes of animal mitochondrial genomes (14,117 bp, NCBI Accession No. NC_005827). The Aplysia genome, like most other mitochondrial genomes, encodes genes for 2 ribosomal subunit RNAs (small and large rRNAs), 22 tRNAs, and 13 protein subunits (cytochrome c oxidase subunits 1–3, cytochrome b apoenzyme, ATP synthase subunits 6 and 8, and NADH dehydrogenase subunits 1–6 and 4L). The gene order is virtually identical between opisthobranchs and pulmonates, with the majority of differences arising from tRNA translocations. In contrast, the gene order from representatives of basal gastropods and other molluscan classes is significantly different from opisthobranchs and pulmonates. The Aplysia genome was compared to all other published molluscan mitochondrial genomes and phylogenetic analyses were carried out using a concatenated protein alignment. Phylogenetic analyses using maximum likelihood based analyses of the well aligned regions of the protein sequences support both monophyly of Euthyneura (a group including both the pulmonates and opisthobranchs) and Opisthobranchia (as a more derived group). The Aplysia mitochondrial genome sequenced here will serve as an important platform in both comparative and neurobiological studies using this model organism.

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© 2006 Elsevier Inc