Complete mitochondrial DNA sequence of the endangered giant sable antelope (Hippotragus niger variani): insights into conservation and taxonomy

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2015 Feb;83:242-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2014.12.001. Epub 2014 Dec 17.


The giant sable antelope is one of the most endangered African bovids. Populations of this iconic animal, the national symbol of Angola, were recently rediscovered, after many decades of presumed extinction. Even so, their numbers are scarce and hence conservation plans are essential. However, fundamental information such as its taxonomic position, time of divergence and degree of genetic variation are still lacking. Here, we used a museum preserved horn as a source of DNA to describe, for the first time, the complete mitochondrial genome of the giant sable antelope, and provide insights into its evolutionary history. Reads generated by shotgun sequencing were mapped against the mitochondrial genome of common sable antelope and the nuclear genomes of cow and sheep. Phylogenetic reconstruction and divergence time estimate give support to the monophyly of the giant sable and a maximum divergence time of 170 thousand years to the closest subspecies. About 7% of the nuclear genome was mapped against the reference. The genetic resources reported here are now available for future work in the field of conservation genetics and phylogeny, in this and related species.

Keywords: Conservation; Divergence time; Giant sable antelope; Mitogenome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antelopes / genetics*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cattle / genetics
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome, Mitochondrial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sheep / genetics


  • DNA, Mitochondrial

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KM245339