Complex repeat structures and novel features in the mitochondrial genomes of the diatoms Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Thalassiosira pseudonana

Gene. 2011 May 1;476(1-2):20-6. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2011.02.001. Epub 2011 Feb 12.


The mitochondrial genome of the raphid pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum has several novel features compared with the mitochondrial genomes of the centric diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and the araphid pennate diatom Synedra acus. It is almost double the size (77,356 bp) due to a 35,454 bp sequence block consisting of an elaborate combination of direct repeats, making it the largest stramenopile (heterokont) mitochondrial genome known. In addition, the cox1 gene has a +1 translational frameshift involving Pro codons CCC and CCT, the first translational frameshift to be detected in an algal mitochondrial genome. The nad9 and rps14 genes are fused by the insertion of an in-frame sequence and cotranscribed. The nad11 gene is split into two parts corresponding to the FeS and molybdate-binding domains, but both parts are still on the mitochondrial genome, in contrast to the brown algae where the second domain appears to have been transferred to the nucleus. In contrast to P. tricornutum, the repeat region of T. pseudonana consists of a much smaller 4790 bp string of almost identical double-hairpin elements, evidence of slipped-strand mispairing and active gene conversion. The diatom mitochondrial genomes have undergone considerable gene rearrangement since the three lineages of diatoms diverged, but all three have kept their repeat regions segregated from their relatively compact coding regions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Cryptophyta / genetics
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Diatoms / classification
  • Diatoms / enzymology
  • Diatoms / genetics*
  • Frameshifting, Ribosomal
  • Gene Fusion
  • Genome, Mitochondrial*
  • Haptophyta / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Cyclooxygenase 1