Molecular phylogeny and taxonomy of the genus Nectogale (Mammalia:
It is generally believed that there is only one species, Nectogale
elegans in the genus Nectogale. However, the validity of the species
status of Nectogale sikhimensis has been controversial, and the
phylogenetic relationship of this genus has not been well resolved. In
this study, the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and eight nuclear genes
were used to infer the molecular phylogenetic relationship of the genus.
The results of phylogenetic trees indicated that Nectogale was divided
into two large lineages—Group A from Tibet and Group B from Sichuan
and Yunnan. The divergence time between the two groups was estimated to
be 5.76 million years. The genetic distance of K2P between the two
groups was over 14%. Some morphological differences were also found in
Groups A and B, including the skull size, shape of the second upper
molar (M2), first lower unicuspid (a1), and palatal suture. In
consideration of the large genetic distance, divergence time, and
morphological differences, we recover the species status of N.
sikhimensis and support that Nectogale consists of two species.