Dating the genetic bottleneck of the african cheetah

13-Feb-2016 15:29 by 5 Comments

Dating the genetic bottleneck of the african cheetah

Five hundred and twenty-five bp of mitochondrial control region were sequenced and analysed for 20 Acinonyx jubatus and one Felis catus.

However variation was present and distinct groups of cheetahs were discernible.The 80 bp RS2 repetitive sequence motif previously described in other felids was found in four copies in cheetah. A larger panel of allozymes revealed that the genetic distance between the two subspecies was 0.004 which is eight times less than the genetic distance among disparate human groups (O'Brien et al., 1987).The repeat units probably have the ability to form secondary structure and may have some function in the regulation of control region replication. More recently, minisatellites, mitochondrial RFLPs (Menotti-Raymond & O'Brien, 1993) and microsatellites (Menotti-Raymond & O'Brien, 1995) have been used to look at cheetah genetic diversity.The two central repeat units in cheetah show homogenization that may have arisen by convergent evolution. jubatus was originally documented in studies using allozymes (O'Brien et al., 1983, 1985), spermatozoan morphology (O'Brien et al., 1983, 1985, 1986), fluctuating asymmetry (Wayne et al., 1986) and skin graft analysis (O'Brien et al., 1985, 1986). Differences between these two subspecies were detectable and the levels of genetic diversity were not as low as previous studies might have suggested.The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a highly specialized member of the Felidae and is renowned as the fastest land animal. raineyi which is found in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania; A. soemmeringi from Sudan, Ethiopia, Chad, Central African Republic, Northern Nigeria and Niger; A. hecki from Southern Mauritania, Senegal, Burkina Faso, southern Mali and northern Benin and A. venaticus from Iran and Egypt (O'Brien et al., 1986; Nowell & Jackson, 1996). The amount of information that these physical measurements can reveal about a lack of diversity at the genetic level has been questioned (Caughley, 1994). However, microsatellite variation was lower in cheetah than in any other felid species examined (Menotti-Raymond & O'Brien, 1995). jubatus samples appeared to be more diverse and suggested that the northern subspecies was derived from its southern counterpart or had lost diversity subsequent to the separation of the subspecies.Its survival in the wild is threatened throughout its habitat with a current population estimate of only 15 000 wild individuals. The Southern African subspecies, Acinonyx jubatus jubatus, is found in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. However, the physical effects reported to be as a result of inbreeding depression in the cheetah in these papers are typical of those in inbred laboratory mice (O'Brien et al., 1985). Mitochondrial RFLPs revealed several mitotypes for each subspecies. The close relationship between two subspecies was examined and implied that an ancient bottleneck may have occurred before they diverged (Menotti-Raymond & O'Brien, 1993).

The range of the cheetah may have undergone a dramatic contraction at the end of the Pleistocene era, a time when a large number of species became extinct (O'Brien et al., 1987).Several smaller bottlenecks may also have occurred since then.This is supported by the molecular data which dates a putative bottleneck at approximately 10 000 years ago (Menotti-Raymond & O'Brien, 1993).Mitochondrial DNA (mt DNA) evolves more rapidly than nuclear single-copy DNA and the control region is the fastest evolving section of the mitochondrial genome.Its sequence diversity has been widely exploited in population studies (Brown et al., 1986).Here we use the mitochondrial control region to assess the genetic diversity of three subspecies of cheetah.

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