First insights into the population genetic structure and the phylogeographic status of the Mehely’s horseshoe bat Rhinolophus mehelyi (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae) in Iran inferred from mitochondrial genes


Mehely’s horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus mehelyi Matschie 1901, is a medium-sized rhinolophid with a discontinuous distribution from North Africa and southern Europe through Asia Minor, Anatolia, to Transcaucasia and Iran. Here, we present a detailed study of the phylogeography and population genetics of this species using 745 bp of the mitochondrial cytochrome b and 522 bp of the mitochondrial D-loop genes in 46 bats in eight localities in western and southwesternIran. Based on the mtDNA sequences, we found a low degree of genetic diversity in the Iranian populations of R. mehelyi (σ = 0.0032 for Cytb and σ = 0.0064 for D-loop gene), that show a close relationship among the haplotypes. With a K2P genetic distance (0.38%–0.97% on D-loop and 0.22%–0.69% on Cytb), and the phylogenetic reconstruction in the Eurasia lineage two major clades are introduced. Here, the phylogenetic trees and statistical parsimony network showed all Iranian samples were grouped in the same clade, but southern Europe and North Africa samples belonged to another clade. The average genetic divergence between reciprocally monophyletic clade of the R. mehelyi group in Iran and southern Europe and North Africa were 0.69% for Cytb and 4.09% for D-Loop respectively. The analysis of population structure suggests an incongruent pattern of genetic differentiation. Mismatch distributions and neutrality tests showed recent historical demographic events as indicated by significant deviations in Fu’s FS from neutrality. The hypothesis of sudden-expansion was not rejected by analyses of mismatch distribution as the Raggedness and SSD were insignificant (p(r) = 0.11 and p (SSD) = 0.07). Similarly, the Bayesian skyline plot suggested a population expansion scenario that took place in the past 4.000 years.

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Najafi, N., Sharifi, M. & Akmali, V. First insights into the population genetic structure and the phylogeographic status of the Mehely’s horseshoe bat Rhinolophus mehelyi (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae) in Iran inferred from mitochondrial genes. Mamm Biol 99, 97–108 (2019).

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  • Rhinolophus mehelyi
  • D-loop
  • Cytochrome-b
  • Phylogenetic reconstruction
  • Iranian Plateau