Mitochondrial DNA variation and the evolution of Robertsonian chromosomal races of house mice, Mus domesticus.
M W Nachman, S N Boyer, J B Searle, C F Aquadro


The house mouse, Mus domesticus, includes many distinct Robertsonian (Rb) chromosomal races with diploid numbers from 2n = 22 to 2n = 38. Although these races are highly differentiated karyotypically, they are otherwise indistinguishable from standard karyotype (i.e., 2n = 40) mice, and consequently their evolutionary histories are not well understood. We have examined mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence variation from the control region and the ND3 gene region among 56 M. domesticus from Western Europe, including 15 Rb populations and 13 standard karyotype populations, and two individuals of the sister species, Mus musculus. mtDNA exhibited an average sequence divergence of 0.84% within M. domesticus and 3.4% between M. domesticus and M. musculus. The transition/transversion bias for the regions sequenced is 5.7:1, and the overall rate of sequence evolution is approximately 10% divergence per million years. The amount of mtDNA variation was as great among different Rb races as among different populations of standard karyotype mice, suggesting that different Rb races do not derive from a single recent maternal lineage. Phylogenetic analysis of the mtDNA sequences resulted in a parsimony tree which contained six major clades. Each of these clades contained both Rb and standard karyotype mice, consistent with the hypothesis that Rb races have arisen independently multiple times. Discordance between phylogeny and geography was attributable to ancestral polymorphism as a consequence of the recent colonization of Western Europe by mice. Two major mtDNA lineages were geographically localized and contained both Rb and standard karyotype mice. The age of these lineages suggests that mice have moved into Europe only within the last 10,000 years and that Rb populations in different geographic regions arose during this time.