Organization and Variation of the Mitochondrial Control Region in Two Vulture Species, Gypaetus barbatus and Neophron percnopterus

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We report the first entire mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequences in two endangered vulture species, the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) and the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus). Results showed that the general organization of vulture control regions was very similar to other birds, with three distinct domains: a left variable domain (DI), a central conserved one (DII) including the F, E, D, and C boxes, and a right domain (DIII) containing the CSB1 sequence. However, due to the presence of long tandem repeats, vulture control regions differed from other avian control regions both in size and nucleotide composition. The Egyptian vulture control region was found to be the largest sequenced so far (2031 bp), due to the simultaneous presence of repeats in both DI (80 bp) and DIII (77 bp). Low variation was found in vulture control regions, particularly in G. barbatus, as the probable result of populations declines in the last few centuries.

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