The parthenogenetic form of the gecko lizard species Heteronotia binoei has an unusually broad geographic range and high genetic diversity. Restriction enzyme analysis revealed two basic types of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) among the parthenogens. One type is restricted to western populations. The other type, analyzed in detail here, was widespread, being found in populations from central to western Australia. The diversity within this widespread type was low. The variation among parthenogens from central to western Australia was similar to that found within local populations of the sexual species that provided the mtDNA, and was an order of magnitude less than the differentiation shown between sexual populations across the same geographic distance. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the widespread type of mtDNA in the parthenogens is most closely related to mtDNAs from western populations of the "CA6" sexual parent. These data suggest that these parthenogenetic clones arose recently within a small geographic area, most probably in Western Australia. The parthenogens must have spread rapidly to occupy much of the central and western Australian deserts. This rapid and extensive range expansion provides strong evidence that parthenogenesis can be a successful strategy for lizards in an environment with low and unpredictable rainfall.
- Copyright © 1991 by the Genetics Society of America