A phylogeographic survey of the pygmy mouse 'Mus Minutoides' in South Africa : taxonomic and karyotypic inference from cytochrome b sequences of museum specimens

Chevret, Pascale ; Robinson, Terence J. ; Perez, Julie ; Veyrunes, Frederic ; Britton-Davidian, Janice (2014-06-06)

CITATION: Chevret, P. et al. 2014. A phylogeographic survey of the pygmy mouse 'Mus Minutoides' in South Africa : taxonomic and karyotypic inference from cytochrome b sequences of museum specimens. PLoS ONE, 9(6):e98499, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098499.

The original publication is available at http://journals.plos.org/plosone

Article

The African pygmy mice (Mus, subgenus Nannomys) are a group of small-sized rodents that occur widely throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Chromosomal diversity within this group is extensive and numerous studies have shown the karyotype to be a useful taxonomic marker. This is pertinent to Mus minutoides populations in South Africa where two different cytotypes (2n = 34, 2n = 18) and a modification of the sex determination system (due to the presence of a Y chromosome in some females) have been recorded. This chromosomal diversity is mirrored by mitochondrial DNA sequences that unambiguously discriminate among the various pygmy mouse species and, importantly, the different M. minutoides cytotypes. However, the geographic delimitation and taxonomy of pygmy mice populations in South Africa is poorly understood. To address this, tissue samples of M. minutoides were taken and analysed from specimens housed in six South African museum collections. Partial cytochrome b sequences (400 pb) were successfully amplified from 44% of the 154 samples processed. Two species were identified: M. indutus and M. minutoides. The sequences of the M. indutus samples provided two unexpected features: i) nuclear copies of the cytochrome b gene were detected in many specimens, and ii) the range of this species was found to extend considerably further south than is presently understood. The phylogenetic analysis of the M. minutoides samples revealed two well-supported clades: a Southern clade which included the two chromosomal groups previously identified in South Africa, and an Eastern clade that extended from Eastern Africa into South Africa. Congruent molecular phylogenetic and chromosomal datasets permitted the tentative chromosomal assignments of museum specimens within the different clades as well as the correction of misidentified museum specimens.

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