Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Divergence among Meloidogyne incognita, Romanomermis culicivorax, Ascaris suum, and Caenorhabditis elegans


  • T. O. Powers
  • T. S. Harris
  • B. C. Hyman


Mitochondrial DNA sequences were obtained from the NADH dehydrogenase subunit 3 (ND3), large rRNA, and cytochrome b genes from Meloidogyne incognita and Romanomermis culicivorax. Both species show considerable genetic distance within these same genes when compared with Caenorhabditis elegans or Ascaris suum, two species previously analyzed. Caenorhabditis, Ascaris, and Meloidogyne were selected as representatives of three subclasses in the nematode class Secernentea: Rhabditia, Spiruria, and Diplogasteria, respectively. Romanomermis served as a representative out-group of the class Adenophorea. The divergence between the phytoparasitic lineage (represented by Meloidogyne) and the three other species is so great that virtually every variable position in these genes appears to have accumulated multiple mutations, obscuring the phylogenetic information obtainable from these comparisons. The 39 and 42% amino acid similarity between the M. incognita and C. elegans ND3 and cytochrome b coding sequences, respectively, are approximately the same as those of C. elegans-mouse comparisons for the same genes (26 and 44%). This discovery calls into question the feasibility of employing cloned C. elegans probes as reagents to isolate phytoparasitic nematode genes. The genetic distance between the phytoparasitic nematode lineage and C. elegans markedly contrasts with the 79% amino acid similarity between C. elegans and A. suum for the same sequences. The molecular data suggest that Caenorhabditis and Ascaris belong to the same subclass. Key words: Ascaris suum, Caenorhabditis elegans, DNA, Meloidogyne incognita, molecular evolution, mtDNA, nematode, nucleotide sequence, Romanomermis culicivorax.