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Phylogenetic relationships among European ratsnakes of the genus Elaphe Fitzinger based on mitochondrial DNA sequence comparisons

Amphibia-Reptilia 22: 229-239

Peter Lenk1,2, Ulrich Joger1, MichaelWink2
1 Hessisches Landesmuseum, Friedensplatz 1, D-64283 Darmstadt, Germany, e-mail: Questo indirizzo e-mail è protetto dallo spam bot. Abilita Javascript per vederlo. ; Questo indirizzo e-mail è protetto dallo spam bot. Abilita Javascript per vederlo.
2 Universität Heidelberg, Institut für Pharmazeutische Biologie, Im Neuenheimer Feld 364, D-69120, Heidelberg, Germany


In order to elucidate the phylogenetic relationships in European ratsnakes of the genus Elaphe, we analyzed a 597 bp part of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene of eight West Eurasian and one East Asian species. Lampropeltis served as outgroup. Maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood suggest the existence of four lineages: 1) E. scalaris; 2) the E. longissima species group comprising E. longissima, E. lineata, E. situla, E. hohenackeri, and E. persica; 3) E. quatuorlineata and 4) E. dione as a sister group to 3). Elaphe scalaris is basal and shows no closer af. liation with any other analyzed species. The Middle Eastern E. persica and E. hohenackeri appear basal within the E. longissima group. Elaphe lineata differs by 8% nucleotide substitutions from E. longissima, supporting the hypothesis that both taxa represent distinct species. Elaphe situla is associated with Elaphe longissima and E. lineata. Three analyzed subspecies of E. quatuorlineata are represented by distinct haplotypes. The extent of divergence gives reason to assign species status to the taxon sauromates. Besides, we found two very distinct haplotypes within the range of E. (q.) sauromates, indicating the existence of a third, so far unidenti. ed, species within the E. quatuorlineata complex. The East Asian E. porphyracea clusters with the E. longissima group. This, as well as comparisons with supplementary sequences of Asian Elaphe species, document the multiple origins of European Elaphe.

® Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2001.
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