Resolution of the phylogenetic relationship of the vulnerable Flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) seabird using a complete mitochondrial genome

Subir Sarker, Ajani Athukorala, Saranika Talukder, Md. Hakimul Haque, Karla Helbig, Jennifer L. Lavers, Shane R. Raidal

Flesh-footed shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) is recognized as vulnerable seabird species in Western Australia and New South Wales, Australia, and its genetic variability and a well-resolved phylogeny is imperative for the species’ conservation. Here, we report the first sequenced mitogenome of the Australian A. carneipes.

The mitogenome of A. carneipes was 16,370 bp in total length and encompassed 13 protein-coding genes, two ribosomal RNAs, 22 transfer RNAs, and one non-coding region (D-loop). All of the genes were encoded on the H-strand with the exception of ND6 and eight tRNAs, which is a conserved pattern of the mitogenome for other vertebrates. The mitogenome of A. carneipes was dominated by higher AT (56.5%) than GC (43.5%) content. In the resulting phylogenetic tree using complete mitogenome sequences, flesh-footed shearwater and gray petrel (Procellaria cinerea) grouped together despite the high genetic distance (11.0%) between them, belonging to family Procellariidae.

However, the phylogenetic tree was consistent with a previous study using partial nucleotide sequences of the cytochrome b gene. These results highlight that further mitogenome sequences will be required from the closely related species under the genus Ardenna to delineate well-resolved phylogenetic classification at the genus and or species level. The present study provides a reference mitochondrial genome of flesh-footed shearwater for further molecular studies.