Nuclear mitochondrial-like sequences in ants: evidence from Atta cephalotes (Formicidae: Attini).Insect Mol Biol. 2007 Dec; 16(6):777-84.IM
Nuclear mitochondrial-like sequences (numts) are copies of mitochondrial DNA that have migrated to the genomic DNA. We present the first characterization of numts in ants, these numts being homologues to a mitochondrial DNA fragment containing loci the 3' portion of the cytochrome oxidase I gene, an intergenic spacer, the tRNA leucine gene and the 5' portion of the cytochrome oxidase II gene. All 67 specimens of Atta cephalotes (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Attini) investigated had these homologues, which are within two monophyletic groups that we called numt1 and numt2. Numt1 and numt2 sequences are less variable than mitochondrial sequences and released from the severe purifying selection constraining the evolution of mitochondrial genes. Their formation probably involved bottlenecks related to two distinct transfer events of ancient and fast evolving mitochondrial DNA fragments to comparative slowly evolving nuclear DNA regions.