The colonization and divergence patterns of Brandt’s vole (Lasiopodomys brandtii) populations reveal evidence of genetic surfing
Background: The colonial habit of Brandt’s vole (Lasiopodomys brandtii) differs from that of most other species of the genus Microtus. The demographic history of this species and the patterns shaping its current genetic structure remain unknown. Here, we explored patterns of genetic differentiation and infered the demographic history of Brandt’s vole populations through analyses of nuclear microsatellite and D-loop sequences. Results: Phylogenetic analyses divided the sampled populations into three main clusters, which represent the southeastern, northeastern and western parts of the total range in Mongolia and China. Molecular data revealed an ancestral area located in the southeast of the extant range, in the Xilinguole District, Inner Mongolia, China, from where Brandt’s vole populations began expanding. A gene flow analysis suggested that the most likely colonization route was from the ancestral area and was followed by subsequent northeastward and westward range expansions. We identified decreases in genetic diversity with increasing distance from the founder population within the newly occupied regions (northeastern and western regions), clinal patterns in the allele frequencies, alleles that were rare in the original area that have become common in the newly occupied regions, and higher genetic differentiation in the expanded range compared with the original one. Conclusion: Our results indicate that L. brandtii most likely originated from the southeastern part of its current geographic range, and subsequently colonized into the northeastern and western parts by expansion. The genetic patterns among the derived populations and with respect to the original population are consistent with that expected under genetic surfing models, which indicated that genetic drift, rather than gene flow, is the predominant factor underlying the genetic structure of expanding Brandt’s vole populations.
Lasiopodomys brandtii; Ancestral area; Migration; Range expansion; Genetic surfing