Microsatellite genotyping reveals end-Pleistocene decline in mammoth autosomal genetic variation

Authors

  • VERONICA NYSTRÖM,

    1. Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
    2. Archaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
    3. Department of Molecular Systematics, Swedish Museum of Natural History, S-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden
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  • JOANNE HUMPHREY,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK
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  • PONTUS SKOGLUND,

    1. Department of Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, S-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
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  • NIALL J. McKEOWN,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK
    2. Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), Aberystwyth University, Penglais, Aberystwyth SY23 3DA, UK
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  • SERGEY VARTANYAN,

    1. Northeast Interdisciplinary Research Institute, Far East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, 16 Portovaya St., Magadan 685000, Russia
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  • PAUL W. SHAW,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK
    2. Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), Aberystwyth University, Penglais, Aberystwyth SY23 3DA, UK
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  • KERSTIN LIDÉN,

    1. Archaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
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  • MATTIAS JAKOBSSON,

    1. Department of Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, S-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
    2. Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, S-751 23 Uppsala, Sweden
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  • IAN BARNES,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK
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  • ANDERS ANGERBJÖRN,

    1. Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
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  • ADRIAN LISTER,

    1. Department of Palaeontology, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK
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  • LOVE DALÉN

    1. Department of Molecular Systematics, Swedish Museum of Natural History, S-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden
    2. School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK
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Veronica Nyström, Fax: +46 (0)8 5195 5181; E-mail: veronica.nystrom@nrm.se, or Love Dalén, Fax: +46 (0)8 5195 5181; E-mail: love.dalen@nrm.se

Abstract

The last glaciation was a dynamic period with strong impact on the demography of many species and populations. In recent years, mitochondrial DNA sequences retrieved from radiocarbon-dated remains have provided novel insights into the history of Late Pleistocene populations. However, genotyping of loci from the nuclear genome may provide enhanced resolution of population-level changes. Here, we use four autosomal microsatellite DNA markers to investigate the demographic history of woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) in north-eastern Siberia from before 60 000 years ago up until the species’ final disappearance c. 4000 years ago. We identified two genetic groups, implying a marked temporal genetic differentiation between samples with radiocarbon ages older than 12 thousand radiocarbon years before present (ka) and those younger than 9 ka. Simulation-based analysis indicates that this dramatic change in genetic composition, which included a decrease in individual heterozygosity of approximately 30%, was due to a multifold reduction in effective population size. A corresponding reduction in genetic variation was also detected in the mitochondrial DNA, where about 65% of the diversity was lost. We observed no further loss in genetic variation during the Holocene, which suggests a rapid final extinction event.

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