Poster Presentation Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference 2016

Genetic origins of bushpigs from Madagascar (#568)

Jaime Gongora 1 , Steven M Goodman 2 3 , Miguel Pedrono 4 , Guillaume Besnard 5 , Carol Lee 1 , Laurent Frantz 6 , Peter J Taylor 7
  1. Faculty of Veterinary Science, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
  2. Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois 60605, USA
  3. Association Vahatra, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
  4. CIRAD, U.R. AGIRs, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
  5. Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, 31062 Toulouse, France
  6. School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
  7. School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, Limpopo Province, South Africa

The island of Madagascar, situated off the east coast of Africa, was settled by Austronesians (proto-Malagasy) ~1500–2000 years ago and immediately after by native East African groups. Bushpigs of the genus Potamochoerus are suggested to have been introduced to Madagascar from eastern mainland Africa and/or offshore islands. The earliest archaeological evidence for bushpigs in Madagascar dates to the 10th-13th centuries and possibly on the Comoro Islands in the 9th-10th centuries. Although the circumstances of the translocation are unclear, it has been proposed that the specific identification of Malagasy bushpigs is P. larvatus from sub-Saharan Africa, which could have been transported directly into Madagascar across the Mozambique Channel or through a corridor via the neighbouring islands by early sea navigators who settled in Madagascar. Furthermore, two subspecies/populations of Malagasy bushpigs have been nominated, P. l. hova and P. l. larvatus from eastern and western Madagascar, respectively. It has been proposed that the former population of bushpigs may have originated from the southern African populations of P. l. koiropotamus, which range from mid-Tanzania southwards. However, genetic evidence to make definitive conclusions on the taxonomic status and geographical origins of these Malagasy wild bushpigs is currently not available. To contribute to this debate, we investigate the phylogenetic position of Malagasy bushpigs in relation to other species of African and Eurasian Suidae and assess their relationships with other bushpig populations from mainland Africa using mitochondrial DNA. Our preliminary results show that the Malagasy bushpigs cluster within the genus Potamochoerus. Analyses of further samples from mainland Africa and biparental DNA markers are underway to better pinpoint the evolutionary relationships of Malagasy bushpigs with the recognised species of this genus and the geographical source of the populations.