Sporadically genetic material that originates from an organelle genome integrates into the nuclear genome. However it is unclear what processes maintain such an integration over longer evolutionary time. Recently it was shown that nuclear DNA of mitochondrial origin (NUMTs) may harbour genes with intact mitochondrial reading frames despite the fact that they are highly divergent to the host’s mitochondrial genome. Two major hypotheses have been put forward to explain the existence of such mitocoding nuclear genes: (A) recent introgression from another species and (B) long-term selection. To address whether these intriguing possibilities we conducted a large-scale analysis which we phrase "phylonumtomics" of more than 1,000 avian and mammalian species. We indeed identified that the subclass of divergent NUMTs harbouring mitogenes with intact reading frames are widespread across mammals and birds. We can show that for these NUMTs signatures of cross-species introgression are widespread in birds, but not mammals with the exception of ungulates. We can also show that a substantial fraction of deeply divergent NUMTs are maintained by selection. For a small number of NUMT genes we identify an evolutionary signature that is consistent with adaptive evolution including one human NUMT that is shared among seven ape species. This highlights the intriguing possibility that NUMT insertions occasionally may contribute to adaptation.
Long-term selection on mitocoding genes buried in mammalian and avian nuclear genomes
Abstract ID: 187
Event: The 3rd AsiaEvo Conference
Topic: The genomics of adaptation and speciation
Presenter Name: Toni Gossmann