Mitochondrial DNA phylogeography of western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)



Clifford SL, Anthony NM, Johnson-Bawe M, Abernethy K, Tutin CEG, White L, Bermejo M, Goldsmith ML, McFarland K, Jeffery KJ, Bruford MW & Wickings EJ (2004) Mitochondrial DNA phylogeography of western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Molecular Ecology, 13 (6), pp. 1551-1565.

The geographical distribution of genetic variation within western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) was examined to clarify the population genetic structure and recent evolutionary history of this group. DNA was amplified from shed hair collected from sites across the range of the three traditionally recognized gorilla subspecies: western lowland (G. g. gorilla), eastern lowland (G. g. graueri) and mountain (G. g. beringei) gorillas. Nucleotide sequence variation was examined in the first hypervariable domain of the mitochondrial control region and was much higher in western lowland gorillas than in either of the other two subspecies. In addition to recapitulating the major evolutionary split between eastern and western lowland gorillas, phylogenetic analysis indicates a phylogeographical division within western lowland gorillas, one haplogroup comprising gorilla populations from eastern Nigeria through to southeast Cameroon and a second comprising all other western lowland gorillas. Within this second haplogroup, haplotypes appear to be partitioned geographically into three subgroups: (i) Equatorial Guinea, (ii) Central African Republic, and (iii) Gabon and adjacent Congo. There is also evidence of limited haplotype admixture in northeastern Gabon and southeast Cameroon. The phylogeographical patterns are broadly consistent with those predicted by current Pleistocene refuge hypotheses for the region and suggest that historical events have played an important role in shaping the population structure of this subspecies.

control region; Gorilla gorilla; mitochondria; phylogeography

Molecular Ecology: Volume 13, Issue 6

Publication date30/06/2004

People (2)


Professor Katharine Abernethy

Professor Katharine Abernethy

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Ms Kathryn Jeffery

Ms Kathryn Jeffery

Research Fellow, Biological and Environmental Sciences