, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 1341-1353

Mitochondrial COII Introgression into the Nuclear Genome of Gorilla gorilla

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Numts are nonfunctional mitochondrial sequences that have translocated into nuclear DNA, where they evolve independently from the original mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence. Numts can be unintentionally amplified in addition to authentic mtDNA, complicating both the analysis and interpretation of mtDNA-based studies. Amplification of numts creates particular issues for studies on the noncoding, hypervariable 1 mtDNA region of gorillas. We provide data on putative numt sequences of the coding mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase subunit II (COII). Via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and cloning, we obtained COII sequences for gorilla, orangutan, and human high-quality DNA and also from a gorilla fecal DNA sample. Both gorilla and orangutan samples yielded putative numt sequences. Phylogenetically more anciently transferred numts were amplified with a greater incidence from the gorilla fecal DNA sample than from the high-quality gorilla sample. Data on phylogenetically more recently transferred numts are equivocal. We further demonstrate the need for additional investigations into the use of mtDNA markers for noninvasively collected samples from gorillas and other primates.