Genetic evidence for subspecies differentiation of the Himalayan marmot, <i>Marmota himalayana</i>, in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
by Jingyan Yan, Hongjian Chen, Gonghua Lin, Qian Li, Jiarui Chen, Wen Qin, Jianping Su, Tongzuo ZhangThe primary host of plague in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP), China, is Marmota himalayana, which plays an essential role in the maintenance, transmission, and prevalence of plague. To achieve a more clear insight into the differentiation of M. himalayana, complete cytochrome b (cyt b) gene and 11 microsatellite loci were analyzed for a total of 423 individuals from 43 localities in the northeast of the QTP. Phylogenetic analyses with maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference methods showed that all derived haplotypes diverged into two primary well-supported monophyletic lineages, I and II, which corresponded to the referential sequences of two recognized subspecies, M. h. himalayana and M. h. robusta, respectively. The divergence between the two lineages was estimated to be at about 1.03 million years ago, nearly synchronously with the divergence between M. baibacina and M. kastschenkoi and much earlier than that between M. vancouverensis and M. caligata. Genetic structure analyses based on the microsatellite dataset detected significant admixture between the two lineages in the mixed region, which verified the intraspecies level of the differentiation between the two lineages. Our results for the first time demonstrated the coexistence of M. h. himalayana and M. h. robusta, and also, determined the distribution range of the two subspecies in the northeast of QTP. We provided fundamental information for more effective plague control in the QTP.
Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article
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