Haplotype variation in founders of the Mauremys annamensis population kept in European Zoos
The critically endangered Annam leaf turtle Mauremys annamensis faces extinction in nature. Because of that, the conservation value of the population kept in European zoos becomes substantial for reintroduction programmes. We sampled 39 specimens of M. annamensis from European zoos and other collections (mainly founders, imports and putatively unrelated individuals), and also four specimens of Mauremys mutica for comparison. In each animal, we sequenced 817 bp of the mitochondrial ND4 gene and 940 bp of the nuclear R35 intron that were used as phylogenetic markers for Mauremys mutica-annamensis group by previous authors. The sequences of the R35 intron, which are characteristic for M. annamensis and which clearly differ from those characteristic for M. mutica and/or other Mauremys species, were mutually shared by all of the examined M. annamensis. They also possessed mitochondrial haplotypes belonging to the annamensis subclades I and II, distinctness of which was clearly confirmed by phylogenetic analyses. Thus, both nuclear and mitochondrial markers agreed in the unequivocal assignment of the examined individuals to M. annamensis. Although no obvious hybrids were detected within the founders of the captive population, further careful genetic evaluation using genom-wide markers is required to unequivocally confirm this result.
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