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Sequence variability of the mitochondrial DNA control region and population genetic structure of sika deers (Cervus nippon) in China*

LIU Hai ① ② YANG Guang② WEI Fu-Wen **① LI Ming② HU Jin-Chu③ (① Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing\ 100080, China) (② Institute of Genetic Resource, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing\ 210097, China) (③ Institute of Rare Animals and Plants, Sichuan Normal College, Nanchong\ 637002, China)  
Three hundred and fifty one base pairs (bp) of the mitochondrial control region from 37 sika deer (Cervus nippon) collected from Jilin (Northeast China population), Sichuan (Sichuan population), Anhui and Jiangxi (South China population) Provinces were sequenced. Twenty three variable sites were determined and five haplotypes were identified. The analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) showed a significant population subdivision for sika deers in Mainland China, supporting the treatment of these populations as different management units. The sequences obtained in this study were combined with those previously published for sika deer in Japan, and this combination revealed 189 variable sites and a total of 25 haplotypes. No shared haplotype was found among the Mainland China, Northern Japan, and Southern Japan populations, and 25 fixed diagnostic site differences separate the three populations. Phylogenetic relationships among these haplotypes were inferred from a minimum spanning network, which was constructed using the MINISPNET software package, and two phylogenetic reconstructions were determined using the maximum likelihood algorithm incorporated in the Phylogenetic Inference Package (PHYLIP) version 3.5c and neighbor joining algorithm incorporated in the Molecular Evolutionary Genetic Analysis (MEGA) version 2.0 software package. All these methods exclusively divided the haplotypes into three monophyletic clades corresponding to the Mainland China, Northern Japan, and Southern Japan populations respectively. Among these populations, the Mainland China and Southern Japan population are more closely related. This indirectly supports the hypothesis that the ancestral sika deer migrated to the islands of Japan across at least two land bridges. However, whether the level of divergence among the three populations has reached the species level still needs to be investigated [Acta Zoologica Sinica 49(1):53-60, 2003].
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