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Genome-wide study on genetic diversity and phylogeny of five species in the genus Cervus

Pengfei Hu, Yuanchen Shao, Jiaping Xu, Tianjiao Wang, Yiqing Li, Huamiao Liu, Min Rong, Weilin Su, Binxi Chen, Songhuan Cui, Xuezhe Cui, Fuhe Yang, Hidetoshi Tamate, Xiumei Xing
BMC Genomics 2019 May 17, 20 (1): 384

BACKGROUND: Previous investigations of phylogeny in Cervus recovered many clades without whole genomic support.

METHODS: In this study, the genetic diversity and phylogeny of 5 species (21 subspecies/populations from C. unicolor, C. albirostris, C. nippon, C. elaphus and C. eldii) in the genus Cervus were analyzed using reduced-representation genome sequencing.

RESULTS: A total of 197,543 SNPs were identified with an average sequencing depth of 16 x. A total of 21 SNP matrices for each subspecies/population and 1 matrix for individual analysis were constructed, respectively. Nucleotide diversity and heterozygosity analysis showed that all 21 subspecies/populations had different degrees of genetic diversity. C. eldii, C. unicolor and C. albirostris showed relatively high expected and observed heterozygosity, while observed heterozygosity in C. nippon was the lowest, indicating there was a certain degree of inbreeding rate in these subspecies/populations. Phylogenetic ML tree of all Cervus based on the 21 SNP matrices showed 5 robustly supported clades that clearly separate C. eldii, C. unicolor, C. albirostris, C. elaphus and C. nippon. Within C. elaphus clade, 4 subclades were well differentiated and statistically highly supported: C. elaphus (New Zealand), C. e. yarkandensis, C. c. canadensis and the other grouping the rest of C. canadensis from China. In the C. nippon clade, 2 well-distinct subclades corresponding to C. n. aplodontus and other C. nippon populations were separated. Phylogenetic reconstruction indicated that the first evolutionary event of the genus Cervus occurred approximately 7.4 millions of years ago. The split between C. elaphus and C. nippon could be estimated at around 3.6 millions of years ago. Phylogenetic ML tree of all samples based on individual SNP matrices, together with geographic distribution, have shown that there were 3 major subclades of C. elaphus and C. canadensis in China, namely C. e. yarkandensis (distributed in Tarim Basin), C. c. macneilli/C. c. kansuensis/C. c. alashanicus (distributed in middle west of China), and C. c. songaricus/C. c. sibiricus (distributed in northwest of China). Among them, C. e. yarkandensis was molecularly the most primitive subclade, with a differentiation dating back to 0.8-2.2 Myr ago. D statistical analysis showed that there was high probability of interspecific gene exchange between C. albirostris and C. eldii, C. albirostris and C. unicolor, C. nippon and C. unicolor, and there might be 2 migration events among 5 species in the genus Cervus.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results provided new insight to the genetic diversity and phylogeny of Cervus deer. In view of the current status of these populations, their conservation category will need to be reassessed.


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