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Out of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and get flourishing - the evolution of Neodon voles (Rodentia: Cricetidae) revealed by systematic sampling and low coverage whole genome sequencing

By Shaoying Liu, Chengran Zhou, Tao Wan, Guanliang Meng, W. Robert W. Murphy, Zhengxin Fan, Mingkun Tang, Yang Liu, Tao Zeng, Shunde Chen, Yun Zhao, Shanlin Liu

Posted 13 Dec 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2019.12.12.873679

Neodon, genus of a short time evolutionary history, was reported to be diverged from its relatives in early stage of Pleistocene. Only 4 species were well documented in Neodon for a long period of time until last years when a systematic work described and added three new species, adjusted three species used to belong to Lasiopodomys, Phaiomys, Microtus to Neodon and removed one species (Neodon juldaschi) to genus Blanfordimys, leading to a total of eight species recorded in Neodon. To gain a better insight into the phylogeny and ecology of Neodon, we have systematically sampled Neodon species along the whole Hengduan and Himalayan Mountains in the last 20 years. In addition to morphological identification, we generated 1x - 15x whole genome sequencing (WGS) data and achieved the mitochondrial genomes and an average of 5,382 nuclear genes for each morpho-species. Both morphology and phylogeny results supported an extra six new species in Neodon (nominated Neodon shergylaensis sp. nov., N. namchabarwaensis sp. nov., N. liaoruii sp. nov., N. chayuensis sp. nov., N. bomiensis sp. nov., and N. bershulaensis sp. nov.). This is the first study that included Neodon samples covering its entire distribution area in China and this systematic sampling also revealed a long-time underestimation of Neodon's diversity, and suggested its speciation events linked highly to founder event via dispersal (from Plateau to surrounding mountains). The results also revealed that the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is the center of origin of Neodon, and the impetus of speciation include climate change, isolation of rivers and mountains.

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