Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA Variation in Populations of Eastern Australian Koalas, Phascolarctos cinereus
E. V. Fowler,1,2 P. Hoeben,1,3 and P. Timms1
1 Centre for Molecular Biotechnology, School of Life Science, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, 4001, Australia.
2 To whom correspondence should be addressed at Queensland Institute of Medical Research, 300 Herston Road, Brisbane, Queensland, 4029, Australia.
3 Present address: W3audit.com, Boerlagelaan 1, 1421 TX, Uithoorn, The Netherlands.
Randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) variation in populations of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, was investigated, revealing significant differences in the level of diversity between southern and northern regions of eastern Australia. Of the 20 polymorphic RAPD markers identified in koalas, 4 - 7 were polymorphic in southern populations, while 12 - 17 were polymorphic in northern populations. Analysis of molecular variance revealed a significant difference in the estimated variance between koalas from northern and those from southern regions (P < 0.001), where populations from the north were greater than twice as variable as their southern cousins. The total genetic diversity observed was attributed to regional differences (30.91%), population differences within a region (11.77%), and differences among individuals within a population (57.32%). For the within-region analyses, a large proportion of the genetic diversity was attributable to individual differences within a population, 80.34% for the north and 91.23% for the south. These results demonstrate that RAPD markers are useful for determining population structure among koalas.