Characterization of a translocated Mitochondrial Cytochrome b pseudogene in Meriones persicus (Rodentia; Gerbillinae); a potential taxonomic pitfall


  • Ahmad Mahmoudi Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Pasteur Str., Tehran 1316943551, Iran; and Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran
  • Ehsan Mostafavi Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Research Centre for Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran.
  • Boris Kryštufek Slovenian Museum of Natural History, Ljubljana, Slovenia



Species identification, Mitochondrial Cytochrome b, Jirds, Pseudogenes


Due to its faster evolution rate compared to nuclear genes, haploid mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a promising species identification tool. This has led to its significant use in taxonomic and phylogenetic studies. While mtDNA is subject to selective constraints that prevent the accumulation of deleterious mutations, the prevalence of nuclear-mitochondrial fragments (known as NUMTs or pseudogenes) in mammals has complicated the use of mtDNA for taxonomy. In the present study, a pseudogene of the mitochondrial cytochrome b (Cytb) was detected in Meriones persicus. This pseudogene differed from its mitochondrial counterpart at 235 out of 1140 sites, and is characterized by frame-shift mutations, indels, and accumulation of non-synonymous substitutions. It is the first report of the Cytb pseudogene in a jird, highlighting the risk of misidentifying NUMTs as authentic mtDNA and the importance of addressing this potential pitfall in taxonomic studies.


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How to Cite

Mahmoudi, A., Mostafavi, E., & Kryštufek, B. (2023). Characterization of a translocated Mitochondrial Cytochrome b pseudogene in Meriones persicus (Rodentia; Gerbillinae); a potential taxonomic pitfall. Journal of Wildlife and Biodiversity, 8(1), 203–212.