[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: We compared partial sequences (402 bp) of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene in 68 individuals of martens (Martes), weasels (Mustela) and their relatives from the Northern Hemisphere to identify the modes of geographic differentiation in each species. We then compared complete sequences (1140 bp) of the gene in 17 species of the family Mustelidae to know the spatial and temporal modes of speciation, constructing linearized trees with transversional substitutions for deeper lineage divergences and with transversions and transitions for younger lineages. Our data suggested that these lineages of Martes and Mustela differentiated in a stepwise fashion with five radiation stages from the generic divergences (stage I) to the intraspecific divergences (stage V), during the last 10 or 20 million years as the fossil evidence suggests. In the lineage of Martes, the first offshoots are of Martes flavigula, M. pennanti, and Gulo gulo (stage II), the second is M. foina (stage III), and the third are M. americana, M. martes, M. melampus, and M. zibellina (stage IV). The divergence of the lineages of Mustela is likely to have taken place concurrently with the radiations of the Martes. These divergence processes are attributable in part to the geographic allocation along the two continents, North America and Eurasia, as well as among peripheral insular domains, such as Taiwan and the Japanese Islands. In addition, the Eurasian continent itself was shown to have been involved in the species diversification in the martens and weasels.
Genes & Genetic Systems 11/2000; 75(5):259-67. · 1.13 Impact Factor