Evolutionary dynamics of mitochondrial DNA duplications in parthenogenetic geckos, Heteronotia binoei.
C Moritz


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from triploid parthenogenetic geckos of the Heteronotia binoei complex varies in size from 17.2 to 27.6 kilobases (kb). Comparisons of long vs. short genomes using restriction endonucleases revealed a series of tandem direct duplications ranging in size from 1.2 to 10.4 kb. This interpretation was supported by transfer-hybridization experiments which also demonstrated that coding sequences were involved. Some of the duplications have been modified by deletion and restriction site changes, but no other rearrangements were detected. Analysis of the phylogenetic and geographic distribution of length variation suggests that duplications have arisen repeatedly within the parthenogenetic form of H. binoei. The parthenogens, and thus the duplications, are of recent origin; modifications of the duplicated sequences, particularly by deletion, has therefore been rapid. The absence of duplications from the mtDNA of the diploid sexual populations of H. binoei reinforces the correlation between nuclear polyploidy and duplication of mtDNA sequences reported for other lizards. In comparison to the genomes of sexual H. binoei and of most other animals, the mtDNA of these parthenogenetic geckos is extraordinarily variable in length and organization.