Although the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) is widely used as a model mammal throughout biological sciences, little is known about genetic variation in wild rat populations or the relationship of commonly used inbred strains to their wild relatives. We sampled wild brown rats from the species' presumed ancestral range in NW China and from a derived population in the UK and estimated nucleotide diversity and population subdivision, based on the sequences of 30 autosomal protein-coding loci. Neutral genetic diversity was close to 0.2% in both populations, which is about five times lower than diversity at the orthologous sites in a population of wild house mice from the species' putative ancestral range in India. We found significant population differentiation between UK and Chinese populations, as assessed by F(st) and the program STRUCTURE. Based on synonymous diversity and divergence between the brown rat and house mouse, we estimate that the recent effective population size in brown rats is approximately 130,000 (approximate 95% confidence interval 85,000-184,000), about fivefold lower than wild house mice.
- Genetic Variation
- Polymorphism, Genetic