Original Paper

Acta Theriologica

, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 119-126

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Cytochrome b gene (cytb) sequence diversity in a Microtus oeconomus population from Bialowieza Primeval Forest

  • Michał J. DąbrowskiAffiliated withMuseum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences Email author 
  • , Jan J. PomorskiAffiliated withMuseum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • , Joanna GliwiczAffiliated withMuseum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences


Based on published information about the glacial, postglacial, and recent distribution of the root vole, Microtus oeconomus, we hypothesized that a population inhabiting the pristine wetland in eastern Poland (Bialowieza Primeval Forest) might comprise a high diversity of haplotypes. The support for this hypothesis was provided by an analysis of partial cytb gene sequences from 149 voles sampled within a two-hectare plot during a nine-year study. In this population, we identified eight haplotypes (PLB1–PLB8), four of which were new to the root vole. These haplotypes were characterized by low nucleotide diversity (π = 0.0054, SE = 0.0019), the absence of transversional differences between sequences, and no changes in the encoded amino acid sequence: features suggesting a lack of immigration from the distant populations. The haplotype number and their frequency distribution in males and females did not differ significantly. An assessment of the persistence of matrilines in the local population throughout the study period revealed that the haplotype composition was relatively stable for only about 3 years. A more complete haplotype network for root voles in Europe was constructed by combining the newly identified haplotypes with the 45 previously described haplotypes. Two of the haplotypes detected in this study occupy key positions in this network: PLB5, as the closest link to the North European group, and PLB8, as an ancestor to many other Central European haplotypes.


Bialowieza Cytochrome b gene Dispersal Haplotype Long-term study Root vole