Plectida is an important nematode order with species that occupy many different biological niches. The order includes free-living aquatic and soil-dwelling species, but its phylogenetic position has remained uncertain. We sequenced the complete mitochondrial genomes of two members of this order, Plectus acuminatus and Plectus aquatilis and compared them with those of other major nematode clades. The genome size and base composition of these species are similar to other nematodes; 14,831 and 14,372bp, respectively, with AT contents of 71.0% and 70.1%. Gene content was also similar to other nematodes, but gene order and coding direction of Plectus mtDNAs were dissimilar from other chromadorean species. P. acuminatus and P. aquatilis are the first chromadorean species found to contain a gene inversion. We reconstructed mitochondrial genome phylogenetic trees using nucleotide and amino acid datasets from 87 nematodes that represent major nematode clades, including the Plectus sequences. Trees from phylogenetic analyses using maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods depicted Plectida as the sister group to other sequenced chromadorean nematodes. This finding is consistent with several phylogenetic results based on SSU rDNA, but disagrees with a classification based on morphology. Mitogenomes representing other basal chromadorean groups (Araeolaimida, Monhysterida, Desmodorida, Chromadorida) are needed to confirm their phylogenetic relationships.
Keywords: Mitogenome; Molecular phylogeny; Nematoda; Plectida; Plectus acuminatus; Plectus aquatilis.
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