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Mol Biol Evol. 2001 Jun;18(6):1070-6.

Genetic diversity and population history of the red panda (Ailurus fulgens) as inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequence variations.

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Laboratory of Comparative Genomics, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China.


The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is one of the flagship species in worldwide conservation and is of special interest in evolutionary studies due to its taxonomic uniqueness. We sequenced a 236-bp fragment of the mitochondrial D-loop region in a sample of 53 red pandas from two populations in southwestern China. Seventeen polymorphic sites were found, together with a total of 25 haplotypes, indicating a high level of genetic diversity in the red panda. However, no obvious genetic divergence was detected between the Sichuan and Yunnan populations. The consensus phylogenetic tree of the 25 haplotypes was starlike. The pairwise mismatch distribution fitted into a pattern of populations undergoing expansion. Furthermore, Fu's F(S) test of neutrality was significant for the total population (F(S) = -7.573), which also suggests a recent population expansion. Interestingly, the effective population size in the Sichuan population was both larger and more stable than that in the Yunnan population, implying a southward expansion from Sichuan to Yunnan.

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