The mitochondrial genome of the onychophoran Opisthopatus cinctipes (Peripatopsidae) reflects the ancestral mitochondrial gene arrangement of Panarthropoda and Ecdysozoa
The ancestral genome composition in Onychophora (velvet worms) is unknown since only a single species of Peripatidae has been studied thus far, which shows a highly derived gene order with numerous translocated genes. Due to this lack of information from Onychophora, it is difficult to infer the ancestral mitochondrial gene arrangement patterns for Panarthropoda and Ecdysozoa. Hence, we analyzed the complete mitochondrial genome of the onychophoran Opisthopatus cinctipes, a representative of Peripatopsidae. Our data show that O. cinctipes possesses a highly conserved gene order, similar to that found in various arthropods. By comparing our results to those from different outgroups, we reconstruct the ancestral gene arrangement in Panarthropoda and Ecdysozoa. Our phylogenetic analysis of protein-coding gene sequences from 60 protostome species (including outgroups) provides some support for the sister group relationship of Onychophora and Arthropoda, which was not recovered by using a single species of Peripatidae, Epiperipatus biolleyi, in a previous study. A comparison of the strand-specific bias between onychophorans, arthropods, and a priapulid suggests that the peripatid E. biolleyi is less suitable for phylogenetic analyses of Ecdysozoa using mitochondrial genomic data than the peripatopsid O. cinctipes. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.