Phylogenetic status and genetic diversity of corsac fox (Vulpes corsac) in Golestan Province, Iran


Abstract: The lack of detailed and precise reports about the presence of corsac fox has caused ambiguities about the presence or absence or even extinction status of this species in its distribution range in Iran. Therefore, this is one of the complicated issues in Iran?s wildlife fauna and there has been no clear scientific answer to this question to date. In this study, 7 mitochondrial DNA control region haplotypes were identified in 10 corsac fox samples (4 tissue and 6 scat) taken from Golestan Province in Iran, and haplotype diversity was equal to 0.93. The genetic distance between individuals showed large differences between Iranian samples and the samples existing in GenBank, which are from northern China. The phylogenetic tree resulting from Bayesian analysis and network analysis showed two Chinese samples and Iranian samples were clustered in two major groups. The analysis of molecular variation between Iranian samples and GenBank samples estimated the genetic structure changes between these two populations at up to 79.36% of total genetic changes. Consequently, the F-statistic (Fst) index significantly separated the populations of Iran and China in terms of genetic construction. The taxonomic status and also the genetic diversity were clarified using molecular methods for the first time for this threatened species. The obtained data can be used for different aspects of its biological and ecological management.

Keywords: Corsac fox, phylogeny, genetic diversity, mitochondrial genome, control region, Iran

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