Relationships of the chromosomal species in the eurasian mole rats of the Spalax ehrenbergi group as determined by DNA-DNA hybridization, and an estimate of the spalacid-murid divergence time

François M. Catzeflis, Eviatar Nevo, Jon E. Ahlquist, Charles G. Sibley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

DNA-DNA hybridization was used to measure the average genomic divergence among the four chromosomal species of the Eurasian mole rats belonging to the Spalax ehrenbergi complex (Rodentia: Spalacidae). The percent nucleotide substitutions in the single-copy nuclear DNA among the species ranged from 0 to 5%, suggesting that speciation has occurred with minor genomic changes in these animals. The youngest chromosomal species appear to differ by 0.2-0.6% base pair mismatch, which is only between one and three base differences in a 500-bp fragment. The interspecific values of percent nucleotide differences permit the recognition of two well-separated speciation events in the S. ehrenbergi complex, the older (of Lower Pleistocene age) having isolated the chromosomal species 2n=54 before the divergence of the three other species. DNA-DNA hybridization was also used to compare the Spalacinae (Eurasian mole rats), Murinae (Old World rats and mice), and Arvicolinae (voles and lemmings). These data enabled us to estimate the time of divergence of the spalacids at ca. 19 million years ago. The dates of divergence among the other rodent lineages, as predicted by DNA hybridization results, agree well with paleontological data. These dates of divergence are obtained by the relation between geological time and single-copy nuclear DNA change, a relation that was calibrated by Catzeflis et al. (1987) through the use of fossil Arvicolinae and Murinae data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1989

Keywords

  • DNA hybridization
  • Rate of DNA change
  • Rodent phylogeny
  • Spalax speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology

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