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Substantial Variation in the Extent of Mitochondrial Genome Fragmentation among Blood-Sucking Lice of Mammals

Jiang, Haowei, Barker, Stephen C., Shao, Renfu
Genome biology and evolution 2013 v.5 no.7 pp. 1298-1308
Haematopinus suis, Pediculus humanus capitis, Pthirus pubis, genes, humans, lice, mitochondria, mitochondrial genome, swine
Blood-sucking lice of humans have extensively fragmented mitochondrial (mt) genomes. Human head louse and body louse have their 37 mt genes on 20 minichromosomes. In human pubic louse, the 34 mt genes known are on 14 minichromosomes. To understand the process of mt genome fragmentation in the blood-sucking lice of mammals, we sequenced the mt genomes of the domestic pig louse, Haematopinus suis, and the wild pig louse, H. apri, which diverged from human lice approximately 65 Ma. The 37 mt genes of the pig lice are on nine circular minichromosomes; each minichromosome is 3–4 kb in size. The pig lice have four genes per minichromosome on average, in contrast to two genes per minichromosome in the human lice. One minichromosome of the pig lice has eight genes and is the most gene-rich minichromosome found in the sucking lice. Our results indicate substantial variation in the rate and extent of mt genome fragmentation among different lineages of the sucking lice.