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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2008 Apr;47(1):237-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2008.01.029. Epub 2008 Feb 2.

A new perspective on the evolutionary history of western European Sorex araneus group revealed by paternal and maternal molecular markers.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biology Building, University of Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


The species of the common shrew (Sorex araneus) group are morphologically very similar, but have undergone a spectacular chromosomal evolution. We investigate here the evolutionary history of the Sorex araneus group distributed in western Europe. In particular, we clarify the position of a difficult species, S. granarius, using sex-specific (mtDNA and Y-chromosome) markers. The karyotype of S. granarius is generally considered similar to the common ancestor of the restricted group considered here. The mtDNA data (1.4 kb) confirms the close relationship between S. granarius and S. araneus sensu stricto (hereafter S. araneus s.s.), but the Y-chromosome (3.4 kb) produces a quite different picture: S. granarius is closely related to another species, S. coronatus. Comparison of mtDNA and Y-chromosome phylogenies suggests that the genetic and chromosomal evolution in this group are disconnected processes. The evolutionary history of the south-western European populations of the S. araneus group can only be understood considering secondary contacts between taxa after their divergence, implying genetic exchanges by means of hybridization and/or introgression.

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