Mitochondrial elements in the Tasmanian devil genome

Dohrmann, Erin 2020, Mitochondrial elements in the Tasmanian devil genome, B.Science (Hons) thesis, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University.

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Title Mitochondrial elements in the Tasmanian devil genome
Author Dohrmann, Erin
Institution Deakin University
School School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment
Degree type Honours
Degree name B.Science (Hons)
Thesis advisor Ujvari, BeataORCID iD for Ujvari, Beata
Date submitted 2020-04-24
Keyword(s) Tasmanian devil
gene transfer
Devil Facial Tumour Disease
mitochondrial DNA
Summary The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilis harrisii) is the largest extant carnivorous marsupial, but is facing extinction due to two transmissible cancers, Devil Facial Tumour Diseases (DFTD). The two diseases have been proposed to have originated due to chromosomal shattering, but the exact causes that have initiated and/or driven tumour progression have so far not been identified. The current project used a novel approach to conduct preliminary research into whether gene transfer from mitochondrial DNA to the devil nuclear genome (nuclear mitochondrial elements, numts) may have contributed to the emergence of DFTDs. As numts have been found in hundreds of eukaryotic species, but have not been investigated in the Tasmanian devil, the current study first had to determine the presence, insertion sites and times of numts in the host genome, before focus can be shifted to DFTD. By aligning the devil mitochondrial genome against the devil nuclear genome using LAST, the study identified over 3000 numts in the devil genome, with sizes ranging from 37bp to 5,081bp and percentage identities ranging from 77.07 to 100%. Numts were found to be randomly positioned throughout the nuclear genome, with a higher number of numts originating from larger mitochondrial genes. Many numts have inserted into non-coding regions, but numts were also found to insert into exons of cancer associated genes. Maximum likelihood analyses predicted most numts inserted 8-15 MYA, a period that was represented by cooling climates and rapid speciation events during the Miocene. The outcomes from this study show the large history of numt insertion into the devil genome, providing a new insight into the Tasmanian devil evolution. This research paves the way of future studies investigating the evolution of marsupial genomes.
Language eng
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 0604 Genetics
Description of original 99 p.
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