Thesis (PhD)--Macquarie University, Division of Environmental and Life Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences, 2002.
Bibliography: leaves 136-157.
General introduction -- Molecular markers for comparative and quantitative studies in macropods -- Genetic linkage map construction in the tammar wallaby (M. eugenii) -- Intraspecific variation, sex-biased dispersal and phylogeography of the eastern grey kangaroo (M. giganteus) -- General discussion.
The analysis of DNA using molecular techniques is an important tool for studies of evolutionary relationships, population genetics and genome organisation. The use of molecular markers within marsupials is primarily limited by their availability and success of amplification. Within this study, 77 macropodid type II microsatellite loci and two type I genetic markers were characterised within M. eugenii to evaluate polymorphic levels and cross-species amplification artifacts. Results indicated that 65 microsatellite loci amplified a single locus in M. eugenii with 44 exhibiting high levels of variability. The success of crossspecies amplification of microsatellite loci was inversely proportional to the evolutionary distance between the macropod species. It is revealed that the majority of species within the Macropodidae are capable of using many of the available heterologous microsatellites. When comparing the degree of variability between source-species and M. eugenii, most were significantly higher within source species (P < 0.05). These differences were most likely caused by ascertainment bias in microsatellite selection for both length and purity. -- The production of a marsupial genetic linkage map is perhaps one of the most important objectives in marsupial research. This study used a total of 353 informative meioses and 64 genetic markers to construct a framework genetic linkage map for M. eugenii. Nearly all markers (93.7%) formed a significant linkage (LOD > 3.0) with at least one other marker. More than 70% (828 cM) of the genome had been mapped when compared with chiasmata data. Nine linkage groups were identified, with all but one (LG7; X-linked) allocated to the autosomes. Theses groups ranged in size from 15.7 cM to 176.5 cM, and have an average distance of 16.2 cM between adjacent markers. Of the autosomal linkage groups, LG2 and LG3 were assigned to chromosome 1 and LG4 localised to chromosome 3 based on physical localisation of genes. Significant sex-specific distortions towards reduced female recombination rates were revealed in 22% of comparisons. Positive interference was observed within all the linkage groups analysed. When comparing the X-chromosome data to closely related species it is apparent that it is conserved both in synteny and gene order. -- The investigation of population dynamics of eastern grey kangaroos has been limited to a few ecological studies. The present investigation provides analysis of mtDNA and microsatellite data to infer both historical and contemporary patterns of population structuring and dispersal. The average level of genetic variation across sample locations was exceedingly high (h = 0.95, HE = 0.82), and is one of the highest observed for marsupials. Contrary to ecological studies, both genic and genotypic analyses reveal weak genetic structure of populations where high levels of dispersal may be inferred up to 230 km. The movement of individuals was predominantly male-biased (average N,m = 22.61, average N p = 2.73). However, neither sex showed significant isolation by distance. On a continental scale, there was strong genetic differentiation and phylogeographic distinction between southern (TAS, VIC and NSW) and northern (QLD) Australian populations, indicating a current and / or historical restriction of geneflow. In addition, it is evident that northern populations are historically more recent, and were derived from a small number of southern eastern grey kangaroo founders. Phylogenetic comparisons between M. g. giganteus and M. g. tasmaniensis, indicated that the current taxonomic status of these subspecies should be revised as there was a lack of genetic differentiation between the populations sampled.
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