Hidden Identities: Cryptic Species in the Otomys Genus (Cuvier 1824) (Rodentia: Muridae: Otomyinae) Revealed by Mitochondrial and Nuclear DNA in South Africa

Metlholo A Phukuntsi, Teresa Kearney, Helene Brettschneider, Desire Dalton, Maria Oosthuizen, Gerhard Goldner, Jacqueline Badenhorst, Antoinette Kotze

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Abstract

The recent taxonomy and phylogeny of Otomyinae has been in a state of flux as new systematic revisions
combining molecular, karyotypic and morphometric information have identified changes at various taxonomic levels.
Currently two genera of Otomyinae and eight species of Otomys are recognized in South Africa. However, the position
of Otomys sloggetti on the phylogeny of Otomyinae has not been resolved, and since this species was not well
represented in recent revisions it may also reveal multiple cryptic evolutionary species. In this study four mitochondrial
and one nuclear gene regions and external morphological characters were analysed to elucidate relationships within
O. sloggetti, as well as between O. sloggetti and other Otomys species occurring in South Africa. The data from this
study suggested O. sloggetti belongs to neither the Otomys, nor the Parotomys genera. Instead, we propose returning
to the classification of Otomyinae and recognize Myotomys as the valid genus for O. sloggetti. Within O. sloggetti,
our data does not support the traditional view of the distribution and intraspecific variation of the species, and invites
a new hypothesis. Specimens identified in the field as O. sloggetti were found to represent two different clades. One
of the clades was genetically and morphologically consistent with the description for O. sloggetti, while the other was
distinct from O. sloggetti and other Otomys species known to occur in South Africa. Our data suggests that this is a
novel species within the Otomys genus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalJournal of Phylogenetics and Evolutionary Biology
Volume4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2016

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