Genetic differentiation and zoogeography of Asian
Protein electrophoresis was used to assess the phylogenetic relationships of populations of the phenotypically variable Asian house shrew Suncus murinus. These populations represent a sample of both commensal and wild forms. They were compared to anothertaxon, S. montanus, which was formerly considered conspecific with S. murinus. Suncus dayi was used as an outgroup in all phylogenetic reconstructions. Within the S. murinus lineage, the allozyme data show very low levels of genetic differentiation among both wild and commensal Southeast Asian and Japanese samples when compared to the Indian populations. This pattern is consistent with the classical hypothesis of a recent introduction by man in Eastern Asia. The higher genetic diversity found within S. murinus from India, as well as previous mitochondrial and karyological results suggest that this area is the probable centre of origin for the species. Although the lack of gene flow between S. murinus and S. montanus is clearly established in an area of sympatry in Southern India, one Asian house shrew sampled in Nepal was more closely related to S. montanus. This could either reflect the retention of an ancestral polymorphism, or result from a hybridization episode between S. murinus and S. montanus. Similar conclusions were also suggested in mitochondrial DNA studies dealing with animals sampled in the Northern parts of the Indian subcontinent. Clearly, further data on Suncus from this area are needed in order to assess these hypotheses.
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