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Genetics differentiation and systematic of peripheral populations of East Asian endemic rodent Myospalax psilurus (Rodentia, Spalacidae) M.V. Tsvirka, M.V. Pavlenko, V.P. Korablev Institute of Biology and Soil Science FEB RAS Vladivostok, 690022, Russia 2013. PROBLEMS.

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Genetics differentiation and systematic of peripheral populations of East Asian endemic rodent Myospalax psilurus (Rodentia, Spalacidae) M.V. Tsvirka, M.V. Pavlenko, V.P. KorablevInstitute of Biology and Soil Science FEB RAS Vladivostok, 690022, Russia2013



endemic in the Eastern Asiataxonomy and evolution are not well studied 6-10 recognized species one (Myospalax) or two (Myospalax and Eospalax) generaFan, Shi, 1982; Musser, Carleton, 2005

subfamily Myospalacinae:



M. armandii

M. aspalax

M. psilurus

M. myospalax

  • L. Martynova, N. Vorontsov, 1975. Population cytogenetic of Zokors Chromosomes
  • L. Martynova, 1976.Chromosomal differentiation of three species of zokors.
  • L. Martynova, I. Fomicheva, N.Vorontsov, 1977.Electrophoretic study of blood protein of zokors.


M. psilurus



- to clarify the genetic differences among two peripheral populations of the Manchurian zokors - to resolve the systematic position of M. psilurus from Khanka Plain and M. epsilanus from Transbaikalia

  • 45 specimens of the Manchurian zokors were studied from 12 localities :
  • 27 from Khanka Plain
  • 18 from Transbaikalia by allozyme, karyological and molecular-genetic methods :RAPD- analysis, sequencing of two mt DNA fragments CR (518 bp) and cyt b(1141 bp)


Study area and localities of Manchurian zokor

M. psilurus



Myospalax psilurus, Primorye,

2n=64 (9-12 M-SM, 10-13 ST, 8-A)

Myospalax epsilanus, Transbaikalia,

2n=64 (9 M-SM, 13-14 ST, 8-9 A)

1. Tf-A - Myospalax aspalax

2. Tf-B - Myospalax psilurus, Primorye

3. Tf-C - Myospalax epsilanus, Transbaikalia

4. Tf-C1 - Myospalax armandii

5. Tf-D - Myospalax myospalax



1-3 Myospalax epsilanus, Transbaikalia

4-5 Myospalax psilurus, Primorye

RAPD-marker fragments and position of studied populations

on the UPGMA (a) and MST (b) trees




cyt b

1141 bp

Myospalax psilurus

Primorye territory



Myospalax epsilanus

Transbaikalia, Chita territory

2N=64, Tf-C

Myospalax aspalax

Transbaikalia, Chita territory

2N=62, Tf-A


Transbaikalia, Chita territory, 2n=62-66, Tf-C1



463 fragments

Myospalax smithii, China, 2n=62

Phylogenetic trees of studiedZokor species





463 fragments

Myospalax epsilanus


Myospalax psilurus

Primorye territory



518 bp

MST phylogenetic trees of studiedZokor species


Interspecific relationships within the genus Myospalax

(PAPD-PCR data)

N – number of specimens, genetic diversity Dst, calculated onthe basis of the total withinsample genetic diversity Htand mean sample genetic diversity Hs, coefficients ofgenetic differentiation Gst, number of migrants per generationNm, genetic distances D, andgenetic similarity S, and performed exact test for population differentiation


Interspecific relationships within the genus Myospalax

(CR- mt DNA)

Estimate value of Kimura two-parametric distance matrix (above diagonal) and transitions and transversions (Ts+Tv) (below diagonal) for 7 taxa of Myospalax


Dr. Vladimir P. Korablev

Dr. Marina V. Pavlenko

The study was partly supported by the RFBR (12-04-00795-a)

Thank you for your attention


The Zokor Myospalax is the endemic group of subterranean rodent in the East Asia.

More then 10 species are whole in this group, and only 4 of them there are in Russian Far East.

Manchurian zokor Myospalax psilurus (Milne-Edwards, 1874) geographically distributed from Transbaikalia to Central China. In Russia there ate two peripheral populations. The first are distributed in east part of Transbaikalia, and second one occupies Khanka plain (south-west part of Primorsky Krai). The systematic ranks ofthese forms are not clear. In the literature, M. epsilanus (Thomas, 1912) is regarded as a subspecies or as a synonym of M. psilurus (Ognev, 1947, Gromov, Erbaeva, 1995; Zhang et al., 1997, Wilson, Reeder, 2005), or as a separate species (Lawrence, 1991; Pavlinov, Rossolimo, 1998; Pavlenko, Korablev, 1999).

The complex of the genetic methods were used to study the differentiation in the "M. psilurus - M. epsilanus" group, and to clarify the systematic position of two peripheral population from the Russian Far East and Transbaikalia.

The diploid number of chromosomes are 2n = 64 in all of studied zokors. There are also the significant differences in the structure of the karyotype between populations from the Transbaikalia region (9-12 M-SM, 10-13 ST, 8-A: "epsilanus") and the Russian Far East (9 M-SM, 13-14 ST, 8-9 A: "psilurus"). Furthermore, these two populations have two different variants of the electrophoretic blood protein (transferrin), each of them is a monomorphic for studied samples within the geographical region and marks the peripheral populations. Random Amplification of Polymorphic DNA PCR (RAPD PCR) obtained the specific markers and genetic evidence of differentiation between two peripheral populations. By sequencing of two mitochondrial DNA fragments (mt DNA), a 514 base-pair fragment of the control region and a 1141 base-pair of the cytochrome b, we found the high lewel genetic differentiation between populations from Primorye and Transbaikalia. The all phylogenetic trees (NJ, MP, ML) are shown two groups of zokors from different geographical regions with high values of support. The genetic distances between these two groups are high, that comparable with those for the pair of closely related species Myospalax aspalax and M. armandii, which are regarded as a separate species taxa.

Thus, the results confirm the hypothesis of the genetic differentiation of two populations M. psilurus from different geographical regions previously proposed on protein markers (Pavlenko, Korablev, 2003) and support a distinct taxonomic position the each of peripheral populations. Under the proposed hypothesis, populations of zokors from the territory of Primorsky Krai and Transbaikal region belong to different species - M. psilurus (Milne-Edwards, 1874) and M. epsilanus (Thomas, 1912), or semispecies within the superspecies M. psilurus.