Mitochondrial gene rearrangements confirm the parallel evolution of the crab-like form

Proc Biol Sci. 2002 Feb 22;269(1489):345-50. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2001.1886.


The repeated appearance of strikingly similar crab-like forms in independent decapod crustacean lineages represents a remarkable case of parallel evolution. Uncertainty surrounding the phylogenetic relationships among crab-like lineages has hampered evolutionary studies. As is often the case, aligned DNA sequences by themselves were unable to fully resolve these relationships. Four nested mitochondrial gene rearrangements--including one of the few reported movements of an arthropod protein-coding gene--are congruent with the DNA phylogeny and help to resolve a crucial node. A phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequences, and gene rearrangements, supported five independent origins of the crab-like form, and suggests that the evolution of the crab-like form may be irreversible. This result supports the utility of mitochondrial gene rearrangements in phylogenetic reconstruction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Brachyura / anatomy & histology*
  • Brachyura / classification
  • Brachyura / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Mitochondrial