May 11, 2017

Combining phylogenetic and demographic inferences to assess the origin of the genetic diversity in an isolated wolf population

PloS One
Luca MontanaEttore Randi


The survival of isolated small populations is threatened by both demographic and genetic factors. Large carnivores declined for centuries in most of Europe due to habitat changes, overhunting of their natural prey and direct persecution. However, the current rewilding trends are driving many carnivore populations to expand again, possibly reverting the erosion of their genetic diversity. In this study we reassessed the extent and origin of the genetic variation of the Italian wolf population, which is expanding after centuries of decline and isolation. We genotyped wolves from Italy and other nine populations at four mtDNA regions (control-region, ATP6, COIII and ND4) and 39 autosomal microsatellites. Results of phylogenetic analyses and assignment procedures confirmed in the Italian wolves a second private mtDNA haplotype, which belongs to a haplogroup distributed mostly in southern Europe. Coalescent analyses showed that the unique mtDNA haplotypes in the Italian wolves likely originated during the late Pleistocene. ABC simulations concordantly showed that the extant wolf populations in Italy and in south-western Europe started to be isolated and declined right after the last glacial maximum. Thus, the standing genetic variat...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Short Tandem Repeat
Autoimmune Lymphoproliferative Syndrome
DNA, Mitochondrial
Isolation Aspects
Genetics, Population
MT-ATP6 gene
Phylogenetic Analysis
MTND4 protein, human

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