Poster Presentation Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference 2016

Investigating the genetic diversity of the Arabian Oryx from Oman (#335)

Qais Abdullah Suliman AlRawahi 1 2 , Mehar Khatkar 1 , Helen Senn 3 , Jaime Gongora 1
  1. Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. Office for Conservation of Environment, Diwan Of Royal Court, Muscat, Oman
  3. WildGenes Laboratory, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Edinburgh , EH12 6TS, UK

The Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) is an endangered ungulate which became extinct in the wild in 1972 but conservation plans have been implemented to save this species. This includes a program in Oman involving breeding and reintroduction into the wild using a few captive populations from zoos and private collections around the world. However, there is limited knowledge of the actual genetic diversity of the breeding populations present in three centers from Oman itself. Understanding population genetic parameters has been identified as a fundamental aspect of better informed management plans. To address this, we are investigating the mitochondrial and nuclear DNA in the breeding populations of the Omani Al Wusta Wildlife Reserve. Here we present preliminary mtDNA control region data from 89 individuals from three groups: originally from Oman (O-Oman); United Arab Emirates (UAE); and populations which are mixed as a result of preliminary breeding between these two groups. We identified 14 variable sites which resulted in 7 haplotypes out of 18 being found which have previously been identified globally in the Arabian Oryx founder population for the Omani conservation initiative from which the animals were sourced.  The mixed herd shared all seven of the haplotypes between the Omani and UAE groups. The results indicate a genetic variability slightly below the observed average among the other Arabian Oryx populations. AMOVA analyses indicate a low level of population differentiaton among the three populations (FST=0.104, P<0.001) with restriction of gene flow between the O-Omani and UAE herds. Our findings improve our knowledge of the current status of the genetic diversity of the Oryx and support the future strategy of translocation and genetic management of reintroduced populations.