Evidence of animal mtDNA recombination between divergent populations of the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida
Recombination is typically assumed to be absent in animal mitochondrial genomes (mtDNA). However, the maternal mode of inheritance means that recombinant products are indistinguishable from their progenitor molecules. The majority of studies of mtDNA recombination assess past recombination events, where patterns of recombination are inferred by comparing the mtDNA of different individuals. Few studies assess contemporary mtDNA recombination, where recombinant molecules are observed as direct mosaics of known progenitor molecules. Here we use the potato cyst nematode, Globodera pallida, to investigate past and contemporary recombination. Past recombination was assessed within and between populations of G. pallida, and contemporary recombination was assessed in the progeny of experimental crosses of these populations. Breeding of genetically divergent organisms may cause paternal mtDNA leakage, resulting in heteroplasmy and facilitating the detection of recombination. To assess contemporary recombination we looked for evidence of recombination between the mtDNA of the parental populations within the mtDNA of progeny. Past recombination was detected between a South American population and several UK populations of G. pallida, as well as between two South American populations. This suggests that these populations may have interbred, paternal mtDNA leakage occurred, and the mtDNA of these populations subsequently recombined. This evidence challenges two dogmas of animal mtDNA evolution; no recombination and maternal inheritance. No contemporary recombination between the parental populations was detected in the progeny of the experimental crosses. This supports current arguments that mtDNA recombination events are rare. More sensitive detection methods may be required to adequately assess contemporary mtDNA recombination in animals.
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Hoolahan, A. H., Blok, V. C., Gibson, T. & Dowton, M. (2012). Evidence of animal mtDNA recombination between divergent populations of the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida. Genetica, 140 (1-3), 19-29.