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Am J Primatol. 2015 Aug;77(8):901-10. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22419. Epub 2015 Apr 22.

Full-length Numt analysis provides evidence for hybridization between the Asian colobine genera Trachypithecus and Semnopithecus.

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College of Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China.
Key laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chaoyang, Beijing, China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Primate Genetics Laboratory, German Primate Center, Göttingen, Germany.
Department of Anthropology and Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, USA.


The phylogenetic position of the genus Semnopithecusis unresolved because of topological incongruence when inferred using different molecular markers. Although some studies proposed hybridization between the genera Semnopithecus and Trachypithecus to explain the discordance, no conclusive evidence for hybridization has been identified. To address this issue, we used DNA walking and long-range PCR to describe a nuclear mitochondrial DNA (Numt) segment present in Trachypithecus pileatus which extends over more than 15 kb, and represents approximately 92% of the entire mitochondrial genome. We assessed the presence of this Numt in 16 other colobine species, including four species of the genus Trachypithecus, six species of the genus Semnopithecus, and representative species of six other genera belonging to the subfamily Colobinae. We failed to detect a Numt sequence in any of the other colobine species except for T. shortridgei, which is closely related to T. pileatus. The sister relationship of this Numt within the genus Semnopithecus suggests that it was derived from the mt genome of the genus Semnopithecus and invaded the nuclear genome of T. pileatus by unidirectional introgression hybridization. These results offer the most conclusive evidence for the existence of hybridization between Semnopithecus and Trachypithecus.


Asian colobines; Numt; Trachypithecus; hybridization

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