On the mtDNA restriction patterns variation of the Iberian wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus). Comparison with other west Mediterranean populations

Hereditas. 1998;129(3):187-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-5223.1998.00187.x.


In previous studies, the presence of three main lineages of wood mice mtDNA was described in western Europe: a first one distributed from the Pyrenees to Scandinavia. a Thyrrenian one occurring in peninsular Italy, Elba, Corsica and Sardinia and a third one restricted to Sicily and Marettimo. Do the Iberian wood mice belong to one of these lineages? In order to answer this question, animals were trapped all over the Iberian peninsula (11 sites) as well as in three of the Balearic islands. Comparisons with specimens from the above mentioned lineages were made. From 158 animals trapped in 30 sites, 78 different mtDNA restriction patterns were obtained and compared using the NEI and LI index ((Nei M and Li WH, (1979). Mathematical model for studying genetic variation in terms of restriction endonucleases. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 76: 5269-5273) of nucleotide divergence. A neighbour-joining tree, with a specimen of Apodemus flavicollis as outgroup, was then computed from the similarity matrix. Apodemus flavicollis is well separated from all the A. sylvaticus and all the Iberian restriction patterns are clustered with those of continental France, showing a great similarity level between the Iberian and north-west European animals. This group is well separated from the Sicilian and from the Tyrrhenian ones. These results suggest that the Pyrenees are not a biogeographic barrier for the wood mouse and that the postglacial recolonisation of western Europe by that species has its origin in populations which, during the latest Ice age, were living in refuges situated in southern France or in the Iberian peninsula. Because the Balearic restriction patterns are clustered in a lineage joining Iberian pattern at a low divergence level, we suggest that their origin is continental Spain or southern France.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific / metabolism
  • France
  • Haplotypes
  • Italy
  • Mice
  • Phylogeny
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Spain


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific
  • GGCC-specific type II deoxyribonucleases
  • GTAC-specific type II deoxyribonucleases