Three genetically divergent lineages of the Oryx in eastern Africa:: Evidence for an ancient introgressive hybridization

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Phylogeographic and population genetic studies using sequence information are frequently used to infer species boundaries and history; and to assess hybridization and population level processes. In this study, partial mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region (423 bp) and cytochrome b sequences (666 bp) of Oryx beisa sampled from five isolated localities in its entire current range in Africa were analyzed to investigate the extent of genetic variation and differentiation between populations. We observed high nucleotide diversity at the control region in the total sample (6.3%) but within populations, it varied considerably ranging from 1.6% to 8.1%. Population pairwise genetic differentiation was generally significantly high (ranging from FST=0.15, P<0.01 to FST=0.54, P<0.001). In the total sample, 29 and 12 haplotypes were observed in the control region and the cytochrome b data sets respectively. For both data sets, the haplotypes cluster into three distinct clades (sequence divergence ranged from 6.0%-12.9% to 0.8%-1.0% for the control region and cytochrome b sequences, respectively) that do not correspond to sampling locations. Two of these clades are found in the same localities (Samburu and Marsabit), which represent the O.beisa beisa subspecies, whereas the last clade represents the fringe-eared oryx (O. beisa callotis). We interpret these findings in terms of an ancient hybridization and introgression between two formerly isolated taxa of Oryx beisa.

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