The complete mitochondrial genome sequence of the filarial nematode Wuchereria bancrofti from three geographic isolates provides evidence of complex demographic history

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2012 May;183(1):32-41. doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2012.01.004. Epub 2012 Feb 1.


Mitochondrial (mt) genome sequences have enabled comparison of population genetics and evolution for numerous free-living and parasitic nematodes. Here we define the complete mt genome of Wuchereria bancrofti through analysis of isolates from Papua New Guinea, India and West Africa. Sequences were assembled for each isolate and annotated with reference to the mt genome sequence for Brugia malayi. The length of the W. bancrofti mt genome is approximately 13,637 nucleotides, contains 2 ribosomal RNAs (rrns), 22 transfer RNAs (trns), 12 protein-coding genes, and is characterized by a 74.6% AT content. The W. bancrofti mt gene order is identical to that reported for Onchocerca volvulus, Dirofilaria immitis, Setaria digitata and B. malayi. In addition to using translational start codons identified previously in the mt protein-coding genes of other filarial nematodes, W. bancrofti appears to be unique in using TGT as a translational start codon. Similarly, use of incomplete stop codons in mt protein-coding genes appears to be more common in W. bancrofti than in other human filarial parasites. The complete mt genome sequence reported here provides new genetic markers for investigating phylogenetic and geographic relationships between isolates, and assessing population diversity within endemic regions. The sequence polymorphism enables new strategies to monitor the progress of public health interventions to control and eliminate this important human parasite. We illustrate the utility of this sequence and single nucleotide polymorphisms by inferring the divergence times between the three W. bancrofti isolates, suggesting predictions into their origin and migration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Western
  • Animals
  • Codon
  • DNA, Intergenic
  • Genes, Helminth
  • Genes, rRNA
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome, Mitochondrial*
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • India
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Phylogeny
  • Phylogeography
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Wuchereria bancrofti / genetics*


  • Codon
  • DNA, Intergenic
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • RNA, Transfer

Associated data

  • GENBANK/JF775522
  • GENBANK/JN367461
  • GENBANK/JQ316200