The evolutionary relationships of pond frogs distributed in the Far East and Europe were investigated by analyses of nucleotide sequences of mitochondrial 12S ribosomal RNA (12S rRNA) and cytochrome b (cyt b) genes. The nucleotide sequences of a 412-bp segment of the 12S rRNA gene and a 534-bp segment of the cyt b gene were determined by the PCR-direct sequencing method using 19 frogs belonging to six species and one subspecies distributed in the Palearctic region. Phylogenetic trees were constructed by the neighbor-joining and maximum-likelihood methods using Rana catesbeiana or Xenopus laevis as an outgroup. The 412-bp segment of the 12S rRNA gene contained 65 variable sites including gap sites, and the 534-bp segment of the cyt b gene contained 160 variable sites. The nucleotide sequence divergences of the 12S rRNA gene were 0.25-4.83% within the Far Eastern frogs, 0.25-6.22% within the European frogs, and 8.74-11.24% between the Far Eastern and the European frogs, whereas those of the cyt b gene were 3.64-14.73% within the Far Eastern frogs, 0.38-14.42% within the European frogs, and 16.53-23.58% between the Far Eastern and the European frogs. Although most nucleotide substitutions were at the third codon position of the cyt b gene and were silent mutations, 4 amino acid replacements occurred within the Far Eastern frogs, 4 within the European frogs, and 11 between the Far Eastern and the European frogs. The phylogenetic trees constructed from the nucleotide sequence divergences showed slightly different topologies for the 12S rRNA and cyt b genes. R. esculenta from Ukraine was closely related to R. lessonae from Luxembourg in both the 12S rRNA and the cyt b gene sequences.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.