Rock Wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) Introduced to Oahu's Koolau Mountain Range Exhibit Limited Mitochondrial Sequence Variability

Hanakahi, Leslyn
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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In 1916 a population of brush-tailed rock wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) was founded in the Ewa-Kalihi valley range by a single pair of mature breeding animals. Over the last 74 years, approximately 35 wallaby generations have passed and census techniques estimate the current population to be 250 - 400 individuals. The establishment of this successful population on the island of Oahu presents a unique and ongoing natural experiment. Three regions of the mitochondrial DNA (Cytochrome b, 12s rRNA and D-Loop) of the Hawaiian brush-tailed rock wallabies have been examined through PCR amplification and comparative DNA sequence analysis. No DNA sequence diversity for the Cytochrome b and 12s rRNA regions has been detected in 10 individuals examined. The D-Loop region is currently under investigation. In the Cytochrome b region two genetic markers have been found which distinguish the Hawaiian wallaby population from other species of wallaby and from other populations of Petrogale penicillata. These genetic markers are individual single nucleotide base mutations which result in replacements at the amino acid level. Inter-specific and inter-generic DNA sequence comparisons of the 12s rRNA region reveals limited sequence divergence. However, sequence information for this region will be important for further molecular phylogenetic analysis of the wallabies examined.
44 pages
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