Reconstructing the phylogeography of an invasive species: tracing invasion routes of norway rats using mtDNA control region

Gruppo di Ricerca: 
Angela Iacucci, Paolo Colangelo, Flavia Annesi, Emiliano Mori, Riccardo Castiglia

The norway rat, Rattus norvegicus, is a cosmopolite invasive
species that moves especially following human routes. It is
considered one of the worst pest, since it may be dangerous for
native species and responsible for of the spreading of pathogens
to man and animals. The norway rat reached Europe during XVIII
century from Asia, but little is known concerning its invasion history
and population structure in this area. Here we used the mtDNA
control region to study pattern of invasion of Rattus norvegicus by
a phylogeographic approach. We used 372 rat sequences, 211
from GenBank and 161 collected from Europe, Africa, and Middle
East. Despite the very recent invasion of Europe, preliminary
results show an unexpected high genetic diversity. Twenty-six
haplotypes were identified. Among them, two are predominant and
included in two haplogroups showing a star-like structure. This
preliminary result, corroborated by mismatch distribution, Tajima'S
D and Fu's Fs neutrality test, suggest a recent sudden expansion
of the species. The two haplogroups found in Europe are
apparently unrelated each other, suggesting the occurence of two
different invasion events of Europe possibly along two different
colonization routes. Further deepened analysis are necessary to
better understand the phylogeographic pattern of this invasive

Anno del Convegno: 

© Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza" - Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma