Scientists of the Tomsk State University have found preserved moose in Western Siberia that have unique features of DNA structure. This discovery of Tomsk scientists will help determine the origin and path of moose movement in the last few tens of thousands of years and gives reason to believe that Siberia is a unique genetic repository. The research has been presented at International Conference "Theriofauna of Russia and adjacent territories" (X Congress of Russian Theriological Society).
Unique moose were found in the southeastern part of Western Siberia. Hunters of the Tomsk Region assisted in this discovery. Along with the license for opening the animals, they got set for the capture of prototypes and a small profile.
After the genetic analysis of samples, the scientists codified data and compared them with data from GenBank, the international computer database. In this way zoologists have discovered previously unexplored genetic lines, on the basis of whose similarity they were able to draw a conclusion about the existence of a new West Siberian haplogroup of moose similar in DNA structure. It is assumed that these genetic lines were widespread 30-40 thousand years ago, but disappeared throughout the last glacial maximum about 18-24 thousand years ago.
Western Siberia remains a white spot, where molecular studies of animals almost never take place, - said Olga Nemoykina, an employee of the Laboratory of Biodiversity Monitoring of Institute of Biology TSU. - This discovery confirms the existence of a refugium - places with favorable conditions in the south of the region, where groups of forest species might be saved during global cooling.
According to Olga, the mitochondrial DNA fragment that is not subjected to recombination was used for analysis. That is, for the entire time from ancient moose to our contemporaries they have only mutation changes. At the same time, according to the hypothesis about the molecular clock, the mutation process is going on at a certain speed: about three thousand years was needed for the emergence and consolidation of one mutation in the DNA fragment used by scientists.
The scientist emphasizes that moose of Western Siberia are characterized by a high (for moose) level of genetic diversity.
It allows us to assume that we also have the chance to find an unusually high genetic diversity of other forest species of our region, - says Olga Nemoykina. - Due to the fact that the high genetic diversity of populations increases the likelihood of their survival when environmental conditions change, wildlife is Western Siberia can be a repository of such diversity for those species that are well represented here. The zoologists' next step will be identifying patterns between the genotype and the appearance of new species of moose.