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A molecular phylogeny of Bharal and dwarf blue sheep based on mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences

CAO Li Rong WANG Xiao Ming ** FANG Sheng Guo (① School of Life Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, Ch ina) (② School of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310029, China)  
The phylogenetic relationship between the bharal or blue sheep ( Pseudois nayau r ) and dwarf blue sheep ( Pseudois nayaur schaeferi ) has been an open qu estion. Total DNA was extracted and sequenced from three dried skin samples of b haral and four dwarf blue sheep from Sichuan and Qinghai provinces in China. The complete sequences were deposited in the GenBank (accession numbers: AF473602- AF473608). Based on the complete Cyt b gene sequences (1 140 bp) obtaine d from t hese samples, the authors aligned them using the Clustal W software program. By comparing the Cyt b sequences of four other species Capra hircus, Capra ib ex, Ovis ammon, Ovis aries in the family Bovidae, the divergences and base sub stitut io ns among these sequences were analyzed with the MEGA software. Accordingly, the base composition of bharal and dwarf blue sheep showed the same characters as th e other bovidae members. The phylogenetic trees constructed by multiple methods (NJ and MP) supported the same topology, in which the monophyly of bharal and dw arf blue sheep was obviously demonstrated and the phylogenetic trees were in agreement with the tra ditional morphological data. Our molecular results show that the sequence diverg ence between bharal and dwarf blu e sheep is lower than that between other species in the family Bovidae. However, the differences surpassed the corresponding number within intraspecific individ uals and were in the range of sequence variation that typically distinguishes su bspecies. Together with these data, the authors propose that the dwarf blue shee p ( Pseudois nayaur schaeferi ) should be a subspecies of the bharal ( Pseudois nayaur ). In addition, the divergence time s bet ween clades was discussed in accordance to the Cyt b molecular clock, which esti mated an approximate divergence time between the bharal and dwarf blue sheep of 1-3 million years
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