Genetic and phylogenetic structure of Hynobius quelpaertensis, an endangered endemic salamander species on the Korean Peninsula

  • Ho Young Suk
  • Han-Gyu Bae
  • Dong-Young Kim
  • Hari Won
  • Hae Jun Baek
  • Chang Hoon Lee
  • Dong Youn Kim
  • Young Min Go
  • Jae-Young Song
  • Hang Lee
  • Mi-Sook MinEmail author
Research Article



The Korean Peninsula is a small but unique area showing great endemic Hynobius diversity with H. quelpaertensis, H. yangi, H. unisacculus and three species candidates (HC1, HC3 and HC4). H. quelpaertensis is distributed in the southern part and in Jeju Island, while the remaining species have extremely narrow distributions.


To examine the genetic structure of H. quelpaertensis and the phylogenetic placement in Hynobius.


Three mitochondrial and six microsatellite loci were genotyped for 204 Hynobius quelpaertensis, three H. leechii, three H. yangi, three HC1, two H. unisacculus, three HC3, three HC4 and ten Japanses H. lichenatus.


A high level of mitochondrial diversity was found in H. quelpaertensis. Our mitochondrial data showed evidence of a historical link between inland and Jeju Island despite the signature of founder effect likely experienced by the early island populations. However, our microsatellite analysis showed the fairly clear signature of isolation history between in- and island populations. Upon phylogenetic analysis, H. quelpaertensis, H. unisacculus and HC1 formed a cluster, whereas H. yangi belonged to a separate cluster. HC3 and HC4 were clustered with either H. quelpaertensis or H. yangi depending on the locus used.


Our results show at least partially the historical imprints engraved by dispersal of Korean endemic Hynobius during Pleistocene, potentially providing a fundamental basis in determining the conservation units and finding management strategies for these species.


Hynobius quelpaertensis Hynobiidae Korean Peninsula Mitochondrial loci Microsatellites Phylogeny 



We thank HT Kim and YM Go for providing field assistance.


This research was performed with the support of the grants from the National Research Foundation of Korea (Grant no. NRF-2016R1D1A1B03934071) and from the National Institute of Biological Resources, Ministry of Environment (Grant no. NIBR201403201).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Supplementary material

13258_2019_886_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1106 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Genetics Society of Korea 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ho Young Suk
    • 1
  • Han-Gyu Bae
    • 1
  • Dong-Young Kim
    • 1
  • Hari Won
    • 1
  • Hae Jun Baek
    • 2
    • 3
  • Chang Hoon Lee
    • 2
    • 3
  • Dong Youn Kim
    • 2
  • Young Min Go
    • 4
  • Jae-Young Song
    • 5
  • Hang Lee
    • 2
  • Mi-Sook Min
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Life SciencesYeungnam UniversityGyeongsanSouth Korea
  2. 2.Research Institute for Veterinary Science, College of Veterinary MedicineSeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  3. 3.National Institute of EcologySeocheonSouth Korea
  4. 4.Jeju Amphibian Ecosystem InstituteJejuSouth Korea
  5. 5.National Park Research InstituteKorea National Park ServiceWonjuSouth Korea

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