Regions of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwestern India have been proposed as the place of origin of Mus musculus castaneus. But despite the fact that Pakistan encompasses an important part of its range, M. m. castaneus populations in Pakistan have not been the subject of intensive genetic and biogeographic studies, except for a very small number of samples included in past studies. We studied genetic variation in M. m. castaneus (CAS) from northern Punjab Province, Pakistan, by using cytochrome b (Cytb) analysis in a sample of 98 individuals. Median-joining network revealed four well differentiated CAS sub-lineages coexisting within a small geographical region; these had previously been thought to have largely non-overlapping geographic distributions. Moreover, haplotypes from Pakistan occupied a central position in the network and all identified global haplotypes were also present in Pakistan. All identified CAS sub-lineages proved to be highly diverse on the basis of haplotype and nucleotide diversity indices. Tajima's D test and Fu's Fs tests of neutrality suggest recent population expansions in all sub-lineages. Expansion times were estimated as 21,760–134,930, 10,800–64,400 and 4950–30,665 ybp using substitution rates of 2.5%, 5% and 11%, respectively. Our results support the hypothesis that northern Punjab Province in Pakistan is the most likely source area for M. m. castaneus, and that the CAS sub-lineages in this region have undergone rapid population expansion events at different time periods, which appear to have benefitted from human-mediated transport, although one of them clearly predates the establishment of human settlements in this region.
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Vol. 34 • No. 6