Genetic diversity within and between natural populations of Rattus norvegicus

D. V. Cramer, A. Chakravarti, O. Arenas, J. Humprieres, P. A. Mowery

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7 Scopus citations


The levels of gene diversity for 17 polymorphic loci in natural populations of wild rats were examined for three separate locations in North and South America. The level of gene diversity in the total sample for the RT1.A locus, the dominant class I histocompatibility locus in the major histocompatibility (RT1) complex of the rat, was 0.807. The degree of gene diversity for nonalloantigenic loci scattered throughout the rat genome was 0.215, a level comparable to, if not slightly higher than, that for other mammalian species. The large and consistent levels of diversity for individuals within each population suggest that significant deviations from random mating have occurred within each group. Conclusions from analyzing genetic distance and the index of genetic differentiation between the three populations are consistent with these populations' geographic isolation and small effective population size. Assuming that the separation of the North and South American groups has existed for approximately 300 years, the effective size of these populations is estimated to be approximately 1,500 individuals. Apparent differences in the distribution of the number and frequency of alleles in the major histocompatibility complexes of mice and rats and the level of genetic differentiation among separate rat populations may be due to the effects of genetic drift in small populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-324
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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