Am J Primatol 2011 Sep 14;73(9):883-95. Epub 2011 Apr 14.
College of Animal Science and Technology, Sichuan Agricultural University, Yaan, China.
Between one and six subspecies of Chinese rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) have been proposed based on morphological differences and/or their geographic distribution. In this study, a 489 base pair fragment of the mitochondrial control region was amplified from 230 DNA samples collected from rhesus macaques in the Sichuan province in Western China. The fragment was then sequenced and aligned with 208 sequences from wild rhesus macaques, sampled throughout the species' geographic range in China downloaded from GenBank. Phylogenetic analysis of the 182 unique sequences identified among these samples divided Chinese rhesus macaques into two western haplogroups (haplogroups A and B) and three older eastern haplogroups (haplogroups C, D, and E), whose differentiation probably occurred during the penultimate glacial event. During the warming after the penultimate glacial event, haplogroups A, B, and E rapidly expanded and a relatively young subhaplogroup of haplogroup E, E', limited to Southern China but shared with Vietnamese rhesus macaques, was reintroduced from Indochina during the last glacial event. One haplotype most closely related to subhaplogroup E' probably represents the isolation of Hainan Island, to where it is restricted, from the mainland by the formation of the Qiongzhou Strait approximately 8,500 years ago. The distribution of haplogroups both informs the phylogeographic history of dispersal of Chinese rhesus macaques and has implications for their suitability as animal models in biomedical research.