The complete mitochondrial DNA sequence of the green alga Pseudendoclonium akinetum (Ulvophyceae) highlights distinctive evolutionary trends in the chlorophyta and suggests a sister-group relationship between the Ulvophyceae and Chlorophyceae

Mol Biol Evol. 2004 May;21(5):922-35. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msh099. Epub 2004 Mar 10.


The mitochondrial genome has undergone radical changes in both the Chlorophyta and Streptophyta, yet little is known about the dynamics of mtDNA evolution in either of these lineages. In the Chlorophyta, which comprises four of the five recognized classes of green algae (Prasinophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae, Ulvophyceae, and Chlorophyceae), the mitochondrial genome varies from 16 to 55 kb. This genome has retained a compact gene organization and a relatively complex gene repertoire ("ancestral" pattern) in the basal lineages represented by the Trebouxiophyceae and Prasinophyceae, whereas it has been reduced in size and gene complement and tends to evolve much more rapidly at the sequence level ("reduced-derived" pattern of evolution) in the Chlorophyceae and the lineage leading to the enigmatic chlorophyte Pedinomonas. To gain information about the evolutionary trends of mtDNA in the Ulvophyceae and also to gain insights into the phylogenetic relationships between ulvophytes and other chlorophytes, we have determined the mtDNA sequence of Pseudendoclonium akinetum. At 95,880 bp, Pseudendoclonium mtDNA is the largest green-algal mitochondrial genome sequenced to date and has the lowest gene density. These derived features are reminiscent of the "expanded" pattern exhibited by embryophyte mtDNAs, indicating that convergent evolution towards genome expansion has occurred independently in the Chlorophyta and Streptophyta. With 57 conserved genes, the gene repertoire of Pseudendoclonium mtDNA is slightly smaller than those of the prasinophyte Nephroselmis olivacea and the trebouxiophyte Prototheca wickerhamii. This ulvophyte mtDNA contains seven group I introns, four of which have homologs in green-algal mtDNAs displaying an "ancestral" or a "reduced-derived" pattern of evolution. Like its counterpart in the chlorophycean green alga Scenedesmus obliquus, it features numerous small, dispersed repeats in intergenic regions and introns. Its overall rate of sequence evolution appears to be accelerated to an intermediary level as compared with the rates observed in "ancestral" and "reduced-derived" mtDNAs. In agreement with the finding that Pseudendoclonium mtDNA exhibits features typical of both the "ancestral" and "reduced-derived" patterns of evolution, phylogenetic analyses of seven mtDNA-encoded proteins revealed a sister-group relationship between this ulvophyte and chlorophytes displaying "reduced-derived" mtDNAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Chlorophyta / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial* / genetics
  • Eukaryota / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genome
  • Introns
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Phylogeny


  • DNA, Mitochondrial

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AY359242