DNA analysis of a 30,000-year-old Urocitellus glacialis from northeastern Siberia reveals phylogenetic relationships between ancient and present-day arctic ground squirrels

Marina Faerman*, Gila Kahila Bar-Gal, Elisabetta Boaretto, Gennady G. Boeskorov, Nikolai E. Dokuchaev, Oleg A. Ermakov, Fedor N. Golenishchev, Stanislav V. Gubin, Eugenia Mintz, Evgeniy Simonov, Vadim L. Surin, Sergei V. Titov, Oksana G. Zanina, Nikolai A. Formozov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

In contrast to the abundant fossil record of arctic ground squirrels, Urocitellus parryii, from eastern Beringia, only a limited number of fossils is known from its western part. In 1946, unnamed GULAG prisoners discovered a nest with three mummified carcasses of arctic ground squirrels in the permafrost sediments of the El'ga river, Yakutia, Russia, that were later attributed to a new species, Citellus (Urocitellus) glacialis Vinogr. To verify this assignment and to explore phylogenetic relationships between ancient and present-day arctic ground squirrels, we performed 14 C dating and ancient DNA analyses of one of the El'ga mummies and four contemporaneous fossils from Duvanny Yar, northeastern Yakutia. Phylogenetic reconstructions, based on complete cytochrome b gene sequences of five Late Pleistocene arctic ground squirrels and those of modern U. parryii from 21 locations across western Beringia, provided no support for earlier proposals that ancient arctic ground squirrels from Siberia constitute a distinct species. In fact, we observed genetic continuity of the glacialis mitochondrial DNA lineage in modern U. parryii of the Kamchatka peninsula. When viewed in a broader geographic perspective, our findings provide new insights into the genetic history of U. parryii in Late Pleistocene Beringia.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number42639
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
DOIs
StatePublished - 16 Feb 2017

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