An international collaboration led by Robert Macey from the Peralta Genomics Institute, US, which includes two members of our lab - Neil and Lara - has led to the discovery of duplicate highly divergent mitochondrial genomes in the Tuatara. This work has just been published in Nature Communications Biology.
Duplicate mitochondrial genomes are quite rare in the animal kingdom, with most species usually having a single mitochondrial genome. The only other known example is found in mollusc mussels. Mitochondrial genes are associated with aging and disease, and the fact that Tuatara have two distinct lineages could help understand how a reptile is able to survive in a cold temperature environment.
Tuatara. Photo credit: Lara Urban.