Journal article
Cryptic diversity in a Eurasian water snake (Natrix tessellata, Serpentes: Colubridae): Evidence from mitochondrial sequence data and nuclear ISSR-PCR fingerprinting

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Guicking, D.; Joger, U.; Wink, M.
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Organisms Diversity and Evolution
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The dice snake, Natrix tessellata (Laurenti, 1768), is a suitable study organism to address questions of Eurasian phylogeography due to its wide Palearctic distribution. We analysed complete mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences and nuclear ISSR-PCR fingerprints of more than 300 specimens representing nearly the entire geographic range. Nine major mitochondrial lineages were discovered based on mtDNA sequences. The three most basal lineages comprised populations from Iran, Jordan-Egypt, and Greece, respectively. Other lineages were associated with samples from the Turkish peninsula, the Caucasus, the Aral Sea, and eastern Kazakhstan. A sister-group relationship was found between two lineages from Crete and the European mainland. Assuming an evolutionary rate of 1.35% sequence divergence per million years, among-lineage p-distances of 1.7-8.4% suggest that intraspecific differentiation might date back as far as the Miocene/Pliocene transition 5-6 million years ago. The pattern of genetic differentiation in mitochondrial phylogeny with regard to Asia Minor and the region of the Aral Sea was not congruent with the results of the nuclear ISSR-PCR analyses, and suggests admixing within some mtDNA clades at contact zones. The taxonomic implications of the high intraspecific variation in the dice snake are discussed. (C) 2009 Gesellschaft fur Biologische Systematik. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


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