n African Zoology - DNA barcoding for identification of cryptic species in the field and existing museum collections: a case study of and (Rodentia: Muridae) - : short communication

Volume 51 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
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DNA barcoding has been proposed as a method for species identification. However, this method has been criticised for its over-reliance on a single mitochondrial gene. In this study, four mitochondrial gene regions and one nuclear gene region were used to investigate their different abilities to identify tissue associated with museum specimens of , and . and the more recently elevated are indistinguishable on morphological grounds; however, their ranges are largely parapatric with only one syntopic locality currently known. All of the mitochondrial gene regions were able to separate from and , but they varied in their abilities to resolve differences between and . The sequence results identified a specimen from KwaZulu- Natal that was misclassified and should have been identified as . Seven specimens that had not been reclassified following the elevation of to species level were identified as . Individuals of from Malawi could not be classified as either or , and may be a hybridor a new, distinct species. This study indicates that DNA barcoding may be used to separate from and , and although it was not able to separate and , it did indicate specimens from Malawi may be a new cryptic species.

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