Oral Annual Conference of the Genetics Society of Australasia with the NZ Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Untangling the evolutionary history of the European Bison (Bison bonasus) (516)

Ayla L. van Loenen 1 , Bastien Llamas 1 , Julien Soubrier 1 , Emilia Hofman-Kamińska 2 , Rafał Kowalczyk 2 , Alan Cooper 1
  1. Australian Center for Ancient DNA, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia
  2. Mammal Research Institude, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland

The evolutionary history of the European bison (Bison bonasus) has often been debated and remains cryptic despite recent ancient DNA and genomic studies. Nonetheless, bison are one of the few species to have survived the mass megafaunal extinction during the Pleistocene/Holocene transition (12-9ky BP), and they can inform on the response of megafaunal populations to periods of rapid environmental change. Ancient DNA (aDNA) provides a unique opportunity to directly observe genetic evolution by investigating the changes in genetic structure of species and populations in real time. A previous study containing predominantly mitochondrial control region sequences as well as 13 complete mitochondrial genomes of bison samples from a restricted geographical range in Eastern Europe has revealed dynamic series of events through time correlated with environmental changes (Soubrier et al., 2016). Here we describe the evolutionary patterns observed in high-resolution mitochondrial sequencing data from over 60 ancient European bison samples across Eurasia, specifically delineating patterns of succession of various bison ecomorphs across a broad geographical and temporal range.