Knowledge of animal mitochondrial genomes is very important to understand their molecular evolution as well as for phylogenetic and population genetic studies. The Lepidoptera encompasses more than 160,000 described species and is one of the largest insect orders. To date only nine lepidopteran mitochondrial DNAs have been fully and two others partly sequenced. Furthermore the taxon sampling is very scant. Thus advance of lepidopteran mitogenomics deeply requires new genomes derived from a broad taxon sampling. In present work we describe the mitochondrial genome of the moth Ochrogaster lunifer.
The mitochondrial genome of O. lunifer is a circular molecule 15593 bp long. It includes the entire set of 37 genes usually present in animal mitochondrial genomes. It contains also 7 intergenic spacers. The gene order of the newly sequenced genome is that typical for Lepidoptera and differs from the insect ancestral type for the placement of trnM. The 77.84% A+T content of its α strand is the lowest among known lepidopteran genomes. The mitochondrial genome of O. lunifer exhibits one of the most marked C-skew among available insect Pterygota genomes. The protein-coding genes have typical mitochondrial start codons except for cox1 that present an unusual CGA. The O. lunifer genome exhibits the less biased synonymous codon usage among lepidopterans. Comparative genomics analysis study identified atp6, cox1, cox2 as cox3, cob, nad1, nad2, nad4, and nad5 as potential markers for population genetics/phylogenetics studies. A peculiar feature of O. lunifer mitochondrial genome it that the intergenic spacers are mostly made by repetitive sequences.
The mitochondrial genome of O. lunifer is the first representative of superfamily Noctuoidea that account for about 40% of all described Lepidoptera. New genome shares many features with other known lepidopteran genomes. It differs however for its low A+T content and marked C-skew. Compared to other lepidopteran genomes it is less biased in synonymous codon usage. Comparative evolutionary analysis of lepidopteran mitochondrial genomes allowed the identification of previously neglected coding genes as potential phylogenetic markers. Presence of repetitive elements in intergenic spacers of O. lunifer genome supports the role of DNA slippage as possible mechanism to produce spacers during replication.