Mitochondrial phylogeography of the Mediterranean horseshoe bat on the Balkan Peninsula

Ivana Budinski, Vladimir M. Jovanović, Branka Pejić, Jelena Blagojević, Marija Rajičić, Milan Paunović, Primož Presetnik, Mladen Vujošević


Paper description:

  • Large Mediterranean peninsulas (Iberian, Italian, Balkan) are the main glacial refugia for many European bat species.
  • We analysed mitochondrial D-loop sequences of Rhinolophus euryale from the Balkans in order to examine its genetic diversity and demographic history.
  • Our results yielded twenty new haplotypes that belonge to the same monophyletic clade. The star-like topology of haplotype network and shallow genetic differentiation support a scenario of population expansion.
  • New data on the genetic diversity of this species are presented. We propose that the Balkan Peninsula was its glacial refugium during the Pleistocene.

Abstract: The Balkan Peninsula is identified as one of the major glacial refugia in Europe during the Pleistocene, and it has served as a genetic source for post-glacial recolonization for many temperate species. The aim of this study was to investigate the genetic diversity and phylogeographic patterns of the Mediterranean horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus euryale Blasius 1853, on the Balkan Peninsula. We also analyzed its demographic history and tested the hypothesis that this region was a glacial refugium for this species. We collected 82 samples from 20 localities in the Balkans and Italy and sequenced the mitochondrial D-loop region. Our results revealed low nucleotide but high haplotype diversity, with 20 out of 24 haplotypes reported for the first time. All Balkan and Italian samples belonged to a single genetic clade in the phylogenetic reconstruction, where they clustered together with previously published samples from Turkey, southern France and North Africa. The haplotype network had a star-like pattern that is indicative of recent population expansion. Both mismatch distribution and shallow genetic differentiation also supported the scenario of a sudden demographic expansion. We estimated that expansion within this lineage commenced in the Late Pleistocene. We suggest that the Balkan Peninsula was a glacial refugium for R. euryale.

Received: May 29, 2019; Revised: August 5, 2019; Accepted: September 9, 2019; Published online: September 13, 2019

How to cite this article: Budinski I, Jovanović VM, Pejić B, Blagojević J, Rajičić M, Paunović M, Presetnik P, Vujošević M. Mitochondrial phylogeography of the Mediterranean horseshoe bat on the Balkan Peninsula. Arch Biol Sci. 2019;71(4):767-74.


D-loop; mitochondrial DNA; refugium; Rhinolophus euryale

Full Text:



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