Recent range expansion and low levels of contemporary gene flow in Calomys musculinus: its relationship with the emergence and spread of Argentine haemorrhagic fever.Heredity (Edinb). 2004 Dec; 93(6):535-41.H
The geographic distribution of haplotype diversity in the rodent Calomys musculinus, sampled from 16 wild populations of Argentina, was analysed on two geographical scales. The species is the natural reservoir of the Junin virus, the etiological agent of the Argentine haemorrhagic fever (AHF). In all, 24 composite haplotypes were recognised in the mtDNA D-loop region. Haplotypes 1 and 2, internal in the network, were the most frequent and were present in almost all populations. The absence of large genetic gaps between widely distributed haplotypes, the existence of exclusive haplotypes in more than 50% of the sampled populations and the absence of isolation by distance at a macrogeographical scale are in support of the hypothesis of a recent range expansion of the populations of the Humid Pampa, with low to moderate current gene flow. The dispersal of this opportunistic species would have been favoured by the explosive increments in density after agriculture was introduced. When only nearby populations within the endemic area of AHF were considered, a pattern of isolation by distance was detected. At present, genetic drift appears to be the main force acting to randomly differentiate C. musculinus populations, which would also lead to random differentiation of Junin virus strains and a reduction in the virulence of the pathogen in 'historic' AHF areas. The knowledge of migration patterns of the reservoir populations facilitates reliable prediction of the potential spread of the human disease.