• rRNA;
  • ribosome;
  • rootworms;
  • secondary structure;
  • expansion segment;
  • homology


We analysed the secondary structure of two expansion segments (D2, D3) of the 28S rRNA gene from 229 leaf beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), the majority of which are in the subfamily Galerucinae. The sequences were compared in a multiple sequence alignment, with secondary structure inferred primarily from the compensatory base changes in the conserved helices of the rRNA molecules. This comparative approach yielded thirty helices comprised of base pairs with positional covariation. Based on these leaf beetle sequences, we report an annotated secondary structural model for the D2 and D3 expansion segments that will prove useful in assigning positional nucleotide homology for phylogeny reconstruction in these and closely related beetle taxa. This predicted structure, consisting of seven major compound helices, is mostly consistent with previously proposed models for the D2 and D3 expansion segments in insects. Despite a lack of conservation in the primary structure of these regions of insect 28S rRNA, the evolution of the secondary structure of these seven major motifs may be informative above the nucleotide level for higher-order phylogeny reconstruction of major insect lineages.