• NUMTs;
  • hemiascomycetes;
  • mitochondrial genome;
  • pseudogenes;
  • nuclear insertion


Transfer of fragments of mtDNA to the nuclear genome is a general phenomenon that gives rise to NUMTs (NUclear sequences of MiTochondrial origin). We present here the first comparative analysis of the NUMT content of entirely sequenced species belonging to a monophyletic group, the hemiascomycetous yeasts (Candida glabrata, Kluyveromyces lactis, Kluyveromyces thermotolerans, Debaryomyces hansenii and Yarrowia lipolytica, along with the updated NUMT content of Saccharomyces cerevisiae). This study revealed a huge diversity in NUMT number and organization across the six species. Debaryomyces hansenii harbors the highest number of NUMTs (145), half of which are distributed in numerous large mosaics of up to eight NUMTs arising from multiple noncontiguous mtDNA fragments inserted at the same chromosomal locus. Most NUMTs, in all species, are found within intergenic regions including seven NUMTs in pseudogenes. However, five NUMTs overlap a gene, suggesting a positive impact of NUMTs on protein evolution. Contrary to the other species, K. lactis and K. thermotolerans harbor only a few diverged NUMTs, suggesting that mitochondrial transfer to the nuclear genome has decreased or ceased in these phylogenetic branches. The dynamics of NUMT acquisition and loss are illustrated here by their species-specific distribution.