Highly conserved nuclear copies of the mitochondrial control region in the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria: some implications for population studies


  • De-Xing Zhang is a Senior Research Associate in Godfrey Hewitt's laboratory. The present work is part of a UNDP project studying the population structure and dynamics of the desert locust S. gregaria and an EU Biotech project developing molecular tools for screening biodiversity. Other work in the group involves similar approaches in grasshoppers, beetles, rabbits, fishes and trees.

Tel: 01603 592182. Fax: 01603 592250. E-mail: G.HEWITT@UEA.AC.UK


Animal mitochondrial DNA has proved a valuable marker in intraspecific systematic studies. However, if nucleotide sequence heterogeneity exists at the individual level, its usefulness will be much reduced. This study demonstrates that the presence of highly conserved non-coding mitochondrial sequences in the nuclear genome of Schistocerca gregaria greatly impairs the use of mtDNA in population genetic studies. Caution is called for in other organisms; and it seems necessary to check for conserved nuclear copies of mitochondrial sequences before launching into a large scale analysis of populations using mtDNA as a genetic marker. Experimental procedures are suggested for this purpose.