Genetic variation at the p53 locus of two ecologically divergent Microtus pine voles: identification of molecular markers for species assignment

Ana Sofia Quina, João Paulo Tavanez, Maria da Luz Mathias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Lusitanian (Microtus lusitanicus) and the Mediterranean (Microtus duodecimcostatus) pine voles are recently diverged sister species endemic of the Iberian Peninsula that can be identified with ecological and morphological characters, but in areas where the 2 species co-occur, species designation may be difficult. Genetic discrimination between M. lusitanicus and M. duodecimcostatus has not been achieved yet possibly because of their estimated recent split and an evolutionary history that includes inter-species gene flow. Following our previous observations on exons 5–7 of the p53 gene, here we analyze the potential use of the p53 genomic region as a discrimination marker of these species by extending our analyses to several kb upstream and downstream of the p53 gene and characterizing the degree of genetic differentiation in 7 markers within this region. Additionally, we fully sequenced the P53 protein of both species. We observed: (i) generally high differentiation in this region; (ii) M. duodecimcostatus showed in general higher values of nucleotide and haplotype diversities; (iii) the concatenated phylogenetic tree separates the 2 species; (iv) the 2 P53 proteins only differ in 1 amino acid; (v) 4 of the markers, 2 in p53, one in Atp1b2, and another in Wrap53, contain species-specific genetic variation thus allowing a reliable discrimination between specimens from both species, irrespective of sampling location or introgression status. We provide additional data on the putative role of p53 in the evolution of these species and present researchers with a fast and cost-effective resource for M. lusitanicus and M. duodecimcostatus identification.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalIntegrative Zoology
Early online date3 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • ecological stress
  • genetic variation
  • Microtus
  • molecular marker
  • p53

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