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Biological Chemistry

Editor-in-Chief: Brüne, Bernhard

Editorial Board Member: Buchner, Johannes / Ludwig, Stephan / Sies, Helmut / Turk, Boris / Wittinghofer, Alfred

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Variability of the mitochondrial genome in mammals at the inter-species/intra-species boundary

Monica Santamaria1 / Cecilia Lanave2 / Saverio Vicario3 / Cecilia Saccone4

1Istituto di Tecnologie Biomediche, Sede di Bari, CNR, I-70126 Bari, Italy

2Istituto di Tecnologie Biomediche, Sede di Bari, CNR, I-70126 Bari, Italy

3Istituto di Tecnologie Biomediche, Sede di Bari, CNR, I-70126 Bari, Italy

4Istituto di Tecnologie Biomediche, Sede di Bari, CNR, I-70126 Bari, Italy and Dipartimento di Biochimica e Biologia Molecolare, Università di Bari, I-70126 Bari, Italy

Corresponding author

Citation Information: Biological Chemistry. Volume 388, Issue 9, Pages 943–946, ISSN (Online) 14374315, ISSN (Print) 14316730, DOI: 10.1515/BC.2007.121, August 2007

Publication History

Published Online:


Genomic variations represent the molecular basis of the biodiversity of living organisms on which selection operates to generate evolution. In eukaryotes, genomic variability can be experienced in both nuclear and organellar, i.e. mitochondrial and plastid (where present), genomes, which can follow completely different evolution pathways, as revealed by comparative genomics analyses. In Metazoa, for which a substantial number of complete genome sequences are available (nuclear, but mainly mitochondrial), we are just starting to grasp the selective pressures operating on some basic features of the genome as a whole. In this brief review, we discuss the variability of the mitochondrial metazoan genome, with particular reference to mitochondrial DNA in mammals. In light of the recent assumption that a small segment of mitochondrial DNA may be used, particularly in Metazoa, as a species marker, some data on mitochondrial gene variability at the inter-species/intra-species boundary are reported. Intra-species variability has been evaluated in four mammalian species, Homo sapiens, Bos taurus, Sus scrofa and Canis familiaris, whereas the relationship between intra- and inter-species variability has been investigated in Bos taurus and Bos indicus.

Keywords: barcode; biodiversity; genetic distances; molecular marker; mtDNA; site variability

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