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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Frequent assimilation of mitochondrial DNA by grasshopper nuclear genomes.

Multiple copies of mitochondrial-like DNA were found in the brown mountain grasshopper, Podisma pedestris (Orthoptera: Acrididae), paralogous to COI and ND5 regions. The same was discovered using the ND5 regions of nine other grasshopper species from four separate subfamilies (Podisminae, Calliptaminae, Cyrtacanthacridinae, and Gomphocerinae). The extra ND5-like sequences were shown to be nuclear in the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria (Cyrtacanthacridinae), and probably so in P. pedestris and an Italopodisma sp. (Podisminae). Eighty-seven different ND5-like nuclear mitochondrial pseudogenes (Numts) were sequenced from 12 grasshopper individuals. Different nuclear mitochondrial pseudogenes, if descended from the same mitochondrial immigrant, will have diverged from each other under no selective constraints because of their loss of functionality. Evidence of selective constraints in the differences between any two Numt sequences (e.g., if most differences are at third positions of codons) implies that they have separate mitochondrial origins. Through pairwise comparisons of pseudogene sequences, it was established that there have been at least 12 separate mtDNA integrations into P. pedestris nuclear genomes. This is the highest reported rate of horizontal transfer between organellar and nuclear genomes within a single animal species. The occurrence of numerous mitochondrial pseudogenes in nuclear genomes derived from separate integration events appears to be a common phenomenon among grasshoppers. More than one type of mechanism appears to have been involved in generating the observed grasshopper Numts.[1]


  1. Frequent assimilation of mitochondrial DNA by grasshopper nuclear genomes. Bensasson, D., Zhang, D.X., Hewitt, G.M. Mol. Biol. Evol. (2000) [Pubmed]
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