Shape differences in the pelvis of the rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus (L.), and their genetic associations

Abstract : Six measurements were taken on the pelvis of modern and archaeological rabbits from France and the Iberian Peninsula and a difference in shape was noticed between the French and Iberian populations. A discriminant function was calculated using the geographically most extreme samples and it appeared that the shape difference was confined to samples from the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineage B. Since many of the modern rabbits had been previously analysed genetically, it was possible to relate the pelvis morphology to the mtDNA type, and it was found that there was an association between the two. A re­evaluation of the phylogeny using all available mtDNA control region sequences suggests that the main groups of haplotypes all branched off at much the same point, presumably as a result of the end of the ice age and the consequent expansion of rabbit populations both within the Peninsula and out of the Peninsula into France. Two groups (B9 and B10) are exclusive to the Peninsula and one (B4) is virtually exclusive to France. Another group (B1) is associated with domestic rabbits. Finally, two subgroups of the mtDNA type B3 are now seen to be distinct groups, one of them (B3A) being associated with domestic rabbits while the other (B3C) is only found in French wild rabbits. Previous work in which B3 rabbits were treated as a single entity therefore needs to be re­evaluated. Whether the association between pelvis shape and mtDNA type stands up to further investigation or not, their study in archaeological material could help to elucidate the pattern of dispersal of rabbits after the ice age and the process of their domestication.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 6:02:43 AM
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John Watson, Simon Davis. Shape differences in the pelvis of the rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus (L.), and their genetic associations. 2019. ⟨hal-01918838v2⟩

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