Genetic Divergence of Orangutan Subspecies (Pongo pygmaeus)
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Microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA sequences were studied for the two subspecies of orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), which are located in Borneo (P. p. pygmaeus) and Sumatra (P. p. abelii), respectively. Both subspecies possess marked genetic diversity. Genetic subdivision was identified within the Sumatran orangutans. The genetic differentiation between the two subspecies is highly significant for ND5 region but not significant for 16s rRNA or microsatellite data by exact tests, although F ST estimates are highly significant for these markers. Divergence time between the two subspecies is approximately 2.3 ± 0.5 million years ago (MYA) estimated from our data, much earlier than the isolation of their geological distribution. Neither subspecies underwent a recent bottleneck, though the Sumatran subspecies might have experienced expansion approximately 82,000 years ago. The estimated effective population sizes for both subspecies are on the order of 104. Our results contribute additional information that may be interpreted in the context of orangutan conservation efforts.
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