Codon usage and bias in mitochondrial genomes of parasitic platyhelminthes
Sequences of the complete protein-coding portions of the mitochondrial (mt) genome were analysed for 6 species of cestodes (including hydatid tapeworms and the pork tapeworm) and 5 species of trematodes (blood flukes and liver- and lung-flukes). A near-complete sequence was also available for an additional trematode (the blood fluke Schistosoma malayensis). All of these parasites belong to a large flatworm taxon named the Neodermata. Considerable variation was found in the base composition of the protein-coding genes among these neodermatans. This variation was reflected in statistically-significant differences in numbers of each inferred amino acid between many pairs of species. Both convergence and divergence in nucleotide, and hence amino acid, composition was noted among groups within the Neodermata. Considerable variation in skew (unequal representation of complementary bases on the same strand) was found among the species studied. A pattern is thus emerging of diversity in the mt genome in neodermatans that may cast light on evolution of mt genomes generally.
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