The Northern mole vole E. talpinus, despite its wide distribution, is characterized by a stable karyotype (2n = NF = 54) and slight morphological polymorphism. We made a preliminary analysis of a mitochondrial DNA fragment to clarify the level of genetic variation and differentiation of E. talpinus The complete cytochrome b gene (cyt b, 1143 bp) and a short part of its flanking gene tRNA-Thr (27 bp) were sequenced. We studied 16 specimens of E. talpinus from eight localities, including Crimea, the Volga region, the Trans-Volga region, the Southern Urals, Western Siberia, and Eastern Turkmenistan. Mitotypes of E. talpinus were distributed on a ML dendrogram as four distinct clusters: the first (I) contains specimens from the Crimea, the second (II) combines individuals from the Volgograd region, the left bank of the Don River; the third (III) includes those from the Trans-Volga region, Southern Urals, the left bank of the Irtysh River, and Eastern Turkmenistan; the fourth (IV) are those from the right bank of the Irtysh River. These clusters were relatively distant from each other: the mean genetic distances (D) between them are 0.021–0.051. The Eastern mole vole E. tancrei differed from E. talpinus population groups 1.5–2 times more (D = 0.077–0.084) than the latters did among themselves. Such variations indirectly proved the unity of E. talpinus, despite its high intraspecific differentiation for the studied fragment of mitochondrial DNA. This differentiation apparently occurred because of the long isolation of E. talpinus population groups by geographic barriers, in particular, the large rivers that completely separate the species range meridionally (the Volga River, the Irtysh River). Sociality and underground lifestyle could accelerate the fixation of mutations in disjunct populations. The composition and distribution of intraspecific groups of E. talpinus, which were identified in analysis of the mitochondrial DNA fragment, do not coincide with the subspecies taxonomy. The subspecies E. t. talpinus is actually a complex taxon, including two or three genetically discrete forms (III, IV, and probably II). Moreover, one of the forms (III) occupies the territory where three subspecies, E. t. talpinus, E. t. rufescens, and E. t. transcaspiae, were described.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 16, 2015
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