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Gene introgression between Gazella subgutturosa and G. marica: limitations of maternal inheritance analysis for species identification with conservation purposes

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It has recently been suggested that goitered gazelles (Gazella subgutturosa and Gazella marica) have paraphyletic maternal origin, and that the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene fragment can be used for species identification prior to reintroduction of the gazelles. Although there is a large geographic area where the gazelles have intermediate morphology, previous researchers have not inferred any signs of mitochondrial haplotype introgression, and it is thought that the introgression, if it exists, is male-biased. We studied mitochondrial haplotypes of morphologically typical G. subgutturosa from two geographic locations. Goitered gazelles from eastern Turkey, morphologically identical to G. subgutturosa, had haplotypes identical to G. marica. This finding confirms ongoing maternal gene introgression from G. marica to G. subgutturosa. Our suggestion is that there is a natural gene flow between these two nominal species, and morphological characters together with recombinant genetic markers rather than mitochondrial DNA should be used to differentiate among individuals from areas close to the contact zone.

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The authors thank WWF Caucasus office and the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia for providing the gazelle tissue samples. We appreciate Frank Zachos and an anonymous referee for valuable comments on the first draft of the manuscript and Lexo Gavashelishvili for correcting the English of the paper.

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Correspondence to David Tarkhnishvili.

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Communicated by: Magdalena Niedziałkowska

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Murtskhvaladze, M., Gurielidze, Z., Kopaliani, N. et al. Gene introgression between Gazella subgutturosa and G. marica: limitations of maternal inheritance analysis for species identification with conservation purposes. Acta Theriol 57, 383–386 (2012).

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