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Divergence in mitochondrial DNA of Near Eastern water frogs with special reference to the systematic status of Cypriote and Anatolian populations (Anura, Ranidae)

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Water frogs from Anatolia, Syria, Jordan, and central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan) were compared on the basis of the complete mitochondrial (mt) ND3 gene (340 bp), two flanking mt t-RNA gene fragments (26 bp), and a 374 bp fragment of the mt 12S rRNA gene. A total of 27 haplotypes were found among the investigated individuals. Anatolian water frogs differed from Syrian and Jordanian Rana bedriagae by 2.2-3.4% of the analysed sites. The observed divergence (2.8-4.1%) between the Cypriote water frogs and frogs from the surrounding mainland (southern Turkey, west Syria) was in the same range as between R. bedriagae and European R. ridibunda (3.1-3.9%). These results suggest that neither the Cypriote nor the Anatolian water frogs represent R. bedriagae. Furthermore, maximum parsimony and neighbour-joining trees showed a clear subdivision of Asian water frogs into three Anatolian lineages, two central Asian lineages, a Cypriote lineage and the bedriagae lineage. In all trees the Cypriote lineage branches off first and a clade formed by two Anatolian lineages is placed as the sister group of water frogs from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, whereas the phylogenetic positions of R. bedriagae, the Ceyhan lineage, the Kazakhstan lineage and R. ridibunda remain unclear.


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