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Convergent Evolution of Mitochondrial Genes in Deep-Sea Fishes

eep seas have extremely harsh conditions including high hydrostatic pressure, total darkness, cold, and little food and oxygen. The adaptations of fishes to deep-sea environment apparently have occurred independently many times. The genetic basis of adaptation for obtaining their energy remains unknown. Mitochondria play a central role in aerobic respiration. Analyses of the available 2,161 complete mitochondrial genomes of 1,042 fishes, including 115 deep-sea species, detect signals of positive selection in mitochondrial genes in nine branches of deep-sea fishes. Aerobic metabolism yields much more energy per unit of source material than anaerobic metabolism. The adaptive evolution of the mtDNA may reflect that aerobic metabolism plays a more important role than anaerobic metabolism in deep-sea fishes, whose energy sources (food) are extremely limited. This strategy maximizes the usage of energy sources. Eleven mitochondrial genes have convergent/parallel amino acid changes between branches of deep-sea fishes. Thus, these amino acid sites may be functionally important in the acquisition of energy, and reflect convergent evolution during their independent invasion of the harsh deep-sea ecological niche.

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