Mitochondrial and nuclear genetic relationships of deer (Odocoileus spp.) in western North America

Canadian Journal of Zoology



Odocoileus hemionus (mule deer and black-tailed deer) and Odocoileus virginanus (white-tailed deer) are sympatric in western North America and are characterized by distinct morphology, behavior, and allozyme allele frequencies. However, there is discordance among nuclear and mitochondrial genetic relationships, as mule deer (O. h. hemionus) and white-tailed deer have similar mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which is very different from that of black-tailed deer (O. h. columbianus, O. h. sitkensis). I expanded previous studies to clarify the genetic relationships of these groups by determining mtDNA haplotype and allozyme genotypes for 667 deer from several locations in northwestern North America. Different mtDNA haplotypes in mule deer, black-tailed deer, and white-tailed deer indicate that mitochondrial gene flow is restricted. Allozyme allele frequencies indicate that there is also restriction of nuclear gene flow between O. virginianus and O. hemionus, and to a lesser extent between mule deer and black-tailed deer. There is a low level of introgressive hybridization of mtDNA from mule deer and black-tailed deer into white-tailed deer populations and considerable interbreeding of mule deer and black-tailed deer in a contact zone. The discordance of mitochondrial and nuclear genomes is apparent only if mtDNA sequence divergences, and not haplotype frequencies, are considered.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Mitochondrial and nuclear genetic relationships of deer (Odocoileus spp.) in western North America
Series title Canadian Journal of Zoology
DOI 10.1139/z91-179
Volume 69
Issue 5
Year Published 1991
Language English
Publisher NRC Research Press
Contributing office(s) Alaska Biological Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 1270
Last page 1279
Other Geospatial North America