The phylogeny of the Eremias velox complex of the Iranian Plateau and Central Asia (Reptilia, Lacertidae): Molecular evidence from ISSR-PCR fingerprints

Document Type : Research articles



The rapid fringe-toed lizard, Eremias velox, is widely distributed in the Iranian plateau and
Central Asia. Several local morphotypes have so far been reported from different parts of
its range, representing this taxon as a species complex. In an attempt to reveal
phylogenetic relationships among various populations of this complex group, 37
specimens from 13 geographically distant localities in Iran and central Asia, covering
most parts of its range, were sampled. Using Inter Simple Sequence Repeat amplification
(ISSR-PCR) as a molecular marker, whole the nuclear genome of all specimens was
screened. Phylogenetic analysis of the prepared data set successfully recovered seven
major clades within the E. velox complex. Relationships among the major clades were
highly resolved with remarkable statistical supports and well correspond to the
geographic distribution of the populations. The reconstructed phylogeny implies that the
clade as a whole has been originated in the Iranian plateau and expanded into central Asia
before uplifting the Kopet-Dagh Mountains. It has then undergone a rapid cladogenesis
in the latter area and produced several morphotypes. Within the Iranian clades two main
groups could be defined, the foothill and highland dwellers and the open plane and desert
dweller populations. The phylogenetic tree together with the estimated amounts of
genetic distances among the independent lineages, provide good grounds for a
fundamental revision of the taxonomic status of the Eremias velox complex.