Populations of two ground squirrel species, Spermophilus major and S. erythrogenys, from the interfluvial area of the Tobol and Ishim rivers, where their ranges overlap, have been examined using RAPD-PCR. We have identified 253 loci, which included taxon-specific markers for S. major and S. erythrogenys as well as markers for geographic populations. Estimation of genetic diversity and construction of phylogenetic relationships were performed using software programs POPGENE, TEPGA, and TREECON. In all, based on morphological traits, animals from the Tobol-Ishim interfluve were assigned to the two parental morphotypes and showed similar levels of genetic variability (H, n a, n e). However, the total polymorphism level proved to be higher in ground squirrels with the major morphotype (P = 40.32%,P 95 = 27.27%) than in animals with the erythrogenys morphotype (P = 32%,P 95 = 22.13%). Nevertheless, the number of rare alleles was high in both cases, constituting about 70% of the total number. Interpopulation differentiation was considerably higher in S. major δ = 0.50) than in S. erythrogenys δ = 0.41). The genetic differentiation between local samples from the Tobol-Ishim interfluvial area was lower than that between the parental species. A significant part of the genetic diversity of the species examined and animals from the zone of overlapping ranges was accounted for by intrapopulation variability. Animals from the northern and southern parts of the Tobol-Ishim interfluve were charac-terized by the core traits of S. major and S. erythrogenys, respectively, falling into two distinct clusters in the UPGMA and NJ reconstructions. In addition to three hybrid individuals, identified by the bioacoustic method, three hybrid animals were distinguished using RAPD analysis. These animals earlier were thought to be “pure” species and formed their own clusters in phylogenetic reconstructions. Thus, the RAPD-PCR results directly showed the existence of stable hybridization (20% genetic hybrids) between S. major and S. erythrogenys in the Tobol-Ishim interfluvial area, which is more extensive than inferred previously from morphological and bioacoustic data.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 10, 2005
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