Document Type


Publication Date



© 2015 Elsevier Inc. Mitochondrial genome rearrangements that result in control region duplication have been described for a variety of birds, but the mechanisms leading to their appearance and maintenance remain unclear, and their effect on sequence evolution has not been explored. A recent survey of mitochondrial genomes in the Psittaciformes (parrots) found that control region duplications have arisen independently at least six times across the order. We analyzed complete mitochondrial genome sequences from 20 parrot species, including representatives of each lineage with control region duplications, to document the gene order changes and to examine effects of genome rearrangements on patterns of sequence evolution. The gene order previously reported for Amazona parrots was found for four of the six independently derived genome rearrangements, and a previously undescribed gene order was found in Prioniturus luconensis, representing a fifth clade with rearranged genomes; the gene order resulting from the remaining rearrangement event could not be confirmed. In all rearranged genomes, two copies of the control region are present and are very similar at the sequence level, while duplicates of the other genes involved in the rearrangement show signs of degeneration or have been lost altogether. We compared rates of sequence evolution in genomes with and without control region duplications and did not find a consistent acceleration or deceleration associated with the duplications. This could be due to the fact that most of the genome rearrangement events in parrots are ancient, and additionally, to an effect of body size on evolutionary rate that we found for mitochondrial but not nuclear sequences. Base composition analyses found that relative to other birds, parrots have unusually strong compositional asymmetry (AT- and GC-skew) in their coding sequences, especially at fourfold degenerate sites. Furthermore, we found higher AT skew in species with control region duplications. One potential cause for this compositional asymmetry is that parrots have unusually slow mtDNA replication. If this is the case, then any replicative advantage provided by having a second control region could result in selection for maintenance of both control regions once duplicated.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution

First Page


Last Page