Phylogeny and biogeography of the alpine newt Mesotriton alpestris (Salamandridae, Caudata), inferred from mtDNA sequences
Džukić, Georg V.
Kalezić, Miloš L.
Polymeni, Rosa Maria
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In this paper, we performed phylogenetic analyses of Mesotriton alpestris populations from the entire range of species distribution, using fragments of two mtDNA genes, cytochrome b (309 bp) and 16S rRNA (similar to 500 bp). Sequence diversity patterns and phylogenetic analyses reveal the existence of a relict lineage (Clade A) of late Miocene origin, comprising populations from south-eastern Serbia. This lineage is proposed to be ancestor to a western and an eastern lineage, which diverged during the middle Pliocene. The western lineage is further divided in two clades (Clades B, C) of middle Pliocene origin that represent populations from Italy (B) and populations from central Europe and Iberia (C). Further subdivision, dated back to the middle-late Pliocene, was found within the eastern lineage, representing southern (Clade D) and central-northern (Clade E) Balkan populations, respectively. Extensive sequence divergence, implying greater isolation in multiple refugia, is found within eastern clades, while the western clades seem to have been involved in the colonization of central, western and north-eastern Europe from a hypothetical refugium in central Europe. The extent of divergence does not support the current taxonomy indicating cryptic speciation in the Balkans, while paedomorphic lineages were found to have been evolved during early-middle Pleistocene probably as a response to the ongoing dramatic climatic oscillations. (c) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.