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Mitochondrial DNA variation in the hybridizing fire-bellied toads, Bombina bombina and B. variegata


Jacek M. Szymura. Present address: Department of Comparative Anatomy, Jagiellonian University, Ingardena 6, 30-060 Kraków, Poland. Fax: 04812-634-3716;


Using five restriction enzymes, geographical variation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in Bombina bombina and B. variegata was studied in samples from 20 locations. Each restriction enzyme produced a species-specific fragment pattern. B. bombina haplotypes A and B were closely related to each other. In contrast, haplotypes A and B of B. variegata formed two distinct lineages. A very distinctive haplotype (C) was found in the Carpathian Mountains, whereas two other haplotypes, D and E (differing by a single AvaI site), were present in western Europe and the Balkans, respectively. Populations polymorphic for haplotypes D and E occurred in the central Balkans where the haplotypes could replace each other clinally. mtDNA sequence divergence between B. bombina and B. variegata was estimated as 6.0–8.1% and 4.7–5.2% between type C and types D/E of B. variegata. The latter divergence is contrary to allozyme and morphological data that place the western and Carpathian B. v. variegata together (Nei's D = 0.07) and separate them from the Balkan subspecies B. v. scabra (Nei's D = 0.18). Broad interspecific correlation among morphology, allozymes and mtDNA types in European fire-bellied toads argues that, despite continuous hybridization (interrupted perhaps during Pleistocene glacial maxima), little or no mtDNA introgression between the species has occurred outside the narrow hybrid zones that separate these parapatric species.