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Numts are an integral component of many eukaryote genomes offering a snapshot of the evolutionary process that led from the incorporation of an α-proteobacterium into a larger eukaryotic cell some 1.8 billion years ago. Although numt sequence can be harnessed as molecular marker, these sequences often remain unidentified and are mistaken for genuine mtDNA leading to erroneous interpretation of mtDNA data sets. It is therefore indispensable that during the process of amplifying and sequencing mitochondrial genes, preventive measures are taken to ensure the exclusion of numts to guarantee the recovery of genuine mtDNA. This applies to mtDNA analyses in general but especially to studies where mtDNAs are sequenced de novo as the launch pad for subsequent mtDNA-based research. By using a combination of dilution series and nested rolling circle amplification (RCA), we present a novel strategy to selectively amplify mtDNA and exclude the amplification of numt sequence. We have successfully applied this strategy to de novo sequence the mtDNA of the Black Field Cricket Teleogryllus commodus, a species known to contain numts. Aligning our assembled sequence to the reference genome of Teleogryllus emma (GenBank EU557269.1) led to the identification of a numt sequence in the reference sequence. This unexpected result further highlights the need of a reliable and accessible strategy to eliminate this source of error.


Jonci N Wolff, Deborah C A Shearman, Rob C Brooks, John W O Ballard. Selective enrichment and sequencing of whole mitochondrial genomes in the presence of nuclear encoded mitochondrial pseudogenes (numts). PloS one. 2012;7(5):e37142

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PMID: 22606342

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