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Norwegian house mice (Mus musculus musculus/domesticus): distributions, routes of colonization and patterns of hybridization


Eleanor P. Jones, Fax: +46 1847 16424;


We investigated the distributions and routes of colonization of two commensal subspecies of house mouse in Norway: Mus musculus domesticus and M. m. musculus. Five nuclear markers (Abpa, D11 cenB2, Btk, SMCY and Zfy2) and a morphological feature (tail length) were used to differentiate the two subspecies and assess their distributions, and mitochondrial (mt) D-loop sequences helped to elucidate their colonization history. M. m. domesticus is the more widespread of the two subspecies, occupying the western and southern coast of Norway, while M. m. musculus is found along Norway’s southeastern coast and east from there to Sweden. Two sections of the hybrid zone between the two subspecies were localized in Norway. However, hybrid forms also occur well away from that hybrid zone, the most prevalent of which are mice with a M. m. musculus-type Y chromosome and an otherwise M. m. domesticus genome. MtDNA D-loop sequences of the mice revealed a complex phylogeography within M. m. domesticus, reflecting passive human transport to Norway, probably during the Viking period. M. m. musculus may have colonized earlier. If so, that leaves open the possibility that M. m. domesticus replaced M. m. musculus from much of Norway, with the widely distributed hybrids a relict of this process. Overall, the effects of hybridization are evident in house mice throughout Norway.