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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 21:97-103 (2013)  -  DOI:

Use of mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences to determine the origin of captive Asian tapirs Tapirus indicus: implications for conservation

Yuttamol Muangkram1,2, Worawidh Wajjwalku2,*, Chaleow Salakij2, Nongnid Kaolim2, Boripat Siriaroonrut3, Sumate Kamolnorranath3, Wanlaya Tipkantha3, Umaporn Maikaew4, Warisara Thomas5, Kanda Polsrila6, Kwanreaun Dong sa-ard7, Saowaphang Sananu8, Anuwat Wattananorrasate

1The Graduate School, Kasetsart University, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
2Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kasetsart University, Kamphaengsaen, Nakhon Pathom 73140, Thailand
3Endangered Species Conservation and Research Institute, Zoological Park Organization, Dusit, Bangkok 10300, Thailand
4Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Sriracha, Chonburi 20110, Thailand
5Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo, Muang, Nakhon Ratchasima 30000, Thailand
6Song Khla Zoo, Muang, Song Khla 90000, Thailand
7Chiang Mai Zoo, Muang, Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand
8Dusit Zoo, Dusit, Bangkok 10300, Thailand
9Safari World Public Company Limited, Klongsamwa, Bangkok 10510, Thailand
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Populations of the Endangered Asian tapir Tapirus indicus in Thailand have been severely fragmented and isolated and may be facing a high risk of extinction. Their genetic diversity and population viability remains unknown. The main aim of this study was to assess the genetic diversity of the Asian tapir using the complete mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (1140 bp). We collected 31 blood samples from captive individuals. Two polymorphic sites were found, contributing to 3 maternal lineages: Ti-1 (n = 15), Ti-2 (n = 11), and Ti-3 (n = 5). Comparative analysis with GenBank sequences of other Asian tapirs found another 17 variable sites. These results suggest that there may be up to 7 distinct haplotypes of T. indicus. Furthermore, the pattern of the haplotype distribution corresponded to natural geographic boundaries, including the Isthmus of Kra and the Malacca Strait. One unique haplotype found in Sumatra was genetically distinct from 3 haplotypes found in Thailand and 3 haplotypes from Malaysia. One haplotype shared between Thai and Malaysian populations indicated a possible origin in the tropical rainforest along the Thai-Malay border. In general, the diverged geographic distribution of these haplotypes illustrates the phylogeographic history of the family Tapiridae (T. indicus, T. terrestris, T. pinchaque, and T. bairdii) based on our 963 bp cytochrome b sequences. These baseline genetic data have the potential to enhance effective management of tapirs held in captive breeding programs. However, there is still an urgent need to identify and maintain the genetic diversity of these distinct populations in the wild.

KEY WORDS: Cytochrome b gene · Genetic diversity · Malayan tapir · Phylogenetic analysis · Thailand

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Cite this article as: Muangkram Y, Wajjwalku W, Salakij C, Kaolim N and others (2013) Use of mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences to determine the origin of captive Asian tapirs Tapirus indicus: implications for conservation. Endang Species Res 21:97-103.

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