Evolutionary implications of microsatellite variation in the Peromyscus maniculatus species group



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Texas A&M University


Given the distribution and probable evolutionary history of the Peromyscus maniculatus species group, an interspecific comparison of microsatellite variation among these species would be logically based (at least initially) on primers isolated from the genome of a geographically central population of P. maniculatus. Additionally, as the species in the group are recently diverged, reasonably informative microsatellite data are likely to require analysis of a rapid evolving category of microsatellite loci. The initial phase of this research involved the isolation, characterization and assessment of variation for a panel of DNA microsatellites containing perfect dinucleotide repeats from a geographically central population of P. maniculatus. Theoretical predictions and empirical studies indicate that phylogenetic analyses based on microsatellite primers isolated from a focal species may be subject to ascertainment biases that can be expected to degrade the efficacy of this approach with increasing phylogenetic depth between the species from which the microsatellites were isolated and those to which these loci are being compared. Results of an analysis of allelic variation at 12 pure, dinucleotide microsatellite loci (isolated from P. maniculatus) are reported for samples of all species in the P. maniculatus species group and the sister taxon P. leucopus.
Examined for the species in the P. maniculatus species group for which there is an a priori highly corroborated phylogeny, evidence of ascertainment bias was apparent only for one locus that was unique to P. maniculatus. Genealogical analyses of the data over all loci yielded inferred relationships that were entirely concordant with the a priori corroborated phylogeny for P. maniculatus, P. keeni, P. polionotus, P. melanotis and P. leucopus. Genealogical analyses of the previously unresolved relationships of P. keeni and P. sejugis consistently placed these as an independent sister-group between P. maniculatus and P. polionotus. The geographically improbable sister-group association of P. keeni and P. sejugis may be the result of an historical ancestral continuity or may reflect large-scale lineage sorting rather than true phylogenetic propinquity. These data suggest that, given the choice of an appropriate focal species, even relatively small sets of pure dinucleotide microsatellites can provide reliable population genetic and systematic implications for taxa with divergence times dating to the Pleistocene.