Amplification of multiple copies of mitochondrial Cytochrome b gene fragments in the Australian freshwater crayfish, Cherax destructor Clark (Parastacidae: Decapoda) Academic Article uri icon


  • Non-coding copies of fragments of the mitochondrial genome translocated to the nucleus or pseudogenes are being found with increasing frequency in a diversity of organisms. As part of a study to evaluate the utility of a range of mitochondrial gene regions for population genetic and systematic studies of the Australian freshwater crayfish, Cherax destructor (the yabby), we report the first detection of Cytochrome b (Cyt b) pseudogenes in crustaceans. We amplified and sequenced fragments of the mitochondrial Cyt b gene from 14 individuals of C. destructor using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with primers designed from conserved regions of Penaeus monodon and Drosophila melanogaster mitochondrial genomes. The phylogenetic tree produced from the amplified fragments using these primers showed a very different topology to the trees obtained from sequences from three other mitochondrial genes, suggesting one or more nuclear pseudogenes have been amplified. Supporting this conclusion, two highly divergent sequences were isolated from each of two single individuals, and a 2 base pair (bp) deletion in one sequence was observed. There was no evidence to support inadvertent amplification of parasite DNA or contamination of samples from other sources. These results add to other recent observations of pseudogenes suggesting the frequent transfer of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genes to the nucleus and reinforces the necessity of great care in interpreting PCR-generated Cyt b sequences used in population or evolutionary studies in freshwater crayfish and crustaceans more generally.

publication date

  • August 2002