An analysis is presented of genetic differentiation in the non-transcribed spacers of ribosomal DNA (NTS rDNA). Diversity, environmental correlates and the phylogenetic relationships are examined within and between species of the actively speciating subterranean mole rat, superspecies Spalax ehrenbergi (2 n=52, 54, 58, 60) in Israel. This analysis is based on a previous study of the geographic distribution of restriction fragment length polymorphisms of NTS rDNA. Here we present results indicating that NTS rDNA diversity exists mostly (66%) within populations, while 20% is between populations within species, and 14% between species. Multivariate discriminant analysis succeeded in separating 10 of the 13 populations (77%) into their correct chromosomal species, on the basis of the combination of three NTS rDNA repetypes. The phylogenetic relationships suggest that the complex involves two pairs of closely related species (2 n=52-54 and 2 n=58-60). NTS rDNA diversity, as well as the decrease southward in frequency of repetype C, are correlated with climatic factors of humidity and temperature. These data are discussed in terms of the evolutionary forces of migration and selection which may cause NTS rDNA differentiation. Climatic selection appears to be the major differentiating factor of NTS rDNA.
- climatic selection
- Non-transcribed ribosomal DNA spacers
- Spalax ehrenbergi
- subterranean mammals
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics