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Research article2006Peer reviewedOpen access

Introgression from Lepus europaeus to L-timidus in Russia revealed by mitochondrial single nucleotide polymorphisms and nuclear microsatellites

Thulin CG, Fang MY, Averianov AO


Hybridisation among wild mammal populations may lead to introgression of genes and genomes over the species barrier. In Sweden, in northern Europe, and on the Iberian Peninsula in southern Europe, mitochondrial DNA from L. timidus occurs among L. europaeus specimens, presumably as a result of interspecific hybridisation. In Russia, the species are believed to hybridise as well, but no investigations have confirmed introgression. Here we develop species diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms in the mitochondrial genomes and combine them with analysis of nuclear microsatellite markers to investigate hybridisation and introgression in 71 Lepus specimens from Russia. A total of 58 specimens are typical representatives of either species. An additional nine specimens have slightly intermediate genotypes, potentially as a result of introgression of nuclear genes. Finally, we find three specimens with L. europaeus mitochondrial genome and apparent L. timidus nuclear genome. This indicates that the reciprocal transfer of mtDNA occur among Russian populations of these species. Our observation differs from previous observations of mtDNA introgression in Sweden and Iberia, and provides further support for a reticulated mode of introgression within the genus Lepus

Published in

2006, Volume: 143, number: 1, pages: 68-76