Preliminary aqnalysis of length and GC content variation in the ribosomal first internal transcribed spacer (ITS1) of marine animals

S. Chow, Y. Ueno, M. Toyokawa, I. Oohara, H. Takeyama

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Length and guanine-cytosine (GC) content of the ribosomal first internal transcribed spacer (ITS1) were compared across a wide variety of marine animal species, and its phylogenetic utility was investigated. From a total of 773 individuals representing 599 species, we only failed to amplify the ITS1 sequence from 87 individuals by polymerase chain reaction with universal ITS1 primers. No species was found to have an ITS1 region shorter than 100 bp. In general, the ITS1 sequences of vertebrates were longer (318 to 2,318 bp) and richer in GC content (56.8% to 78%) than those of invertebrates (117 to 1,613 bp and 35.8% to 71.3%, respectively). Specifically, gelatinous animals (Cnidaria and Ctenophora) were observed to have short ITS1 sequences (118 to 422 bp) with lower GC content (35.8% to 61.7%) than the other animal taxa. Mollusca and Crustacea were diverse groups with respect to ITS1 length, ranging from 108 to 1,118 and 182 to 1,613 bp, respectively. No universal relationship between length and GC content was observed. Our data indicated that ITS1 has a limited utility for phylogenetic analysis as obtaining confident sequence alignment was often impossible between different genera of the same family and even between congeneric species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-306
Number of pages6
JournalMarine Biotechnology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Jun 1



  • GC content
  • ITS1
  • Length
  • Marine animals
  • Phylogenetic utility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Aquatic Science

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