DNA Barcodes Reveal High Genetic Diversity in Philippine Fruit Bats

Adrian U. Luczon1*, Sofia Anne Marie M. Ampo1,2, John Gregor A. Roño1,
Mariano Roy M. Duya1, Perry S. Ong1, and Ian Kendrich C. Fontanilla1,3

1Institute of Biology, College of Science, University of the Philippines,
Diliman, Quezon City 1101 Philippines
2Rizal Medical Center, Pasig Blvd., Barangay Bagong Ilog Pasig City 1600 Philippines
3Philippine Genome Center, University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City 1101 Philippines

*Corresponding Author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Fruit bats of the family Pteropodidae is the third largest family in the order Chiroptera. There are 26 recorded species in the Philippines, 17 of which are endemic to the country. However, the number of species in the archipelago may still be underestimated. With the growing threats to biodiversity and dwindling number of taxonomists, DNA barcodes can assist with the problem by providing an accurate, rapid, and effective method of species recognition. To contribute to the barcoding endeavor and determine the diversity of Philippine fruit bats, a 542-base-pair portion of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) gene was sequenced from 111 individuals belonging to 19 pteropodid species. A neighbor-joining (NJ) and maximum likelihood (ML) tree was generated using the sequences in this study and other available sequences in Genbank and Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD). DNA barcodes were effective in delineating Philippine species. Closer inspection of the NJ tree revealed distinct [> 6% mean Kimura-2-parameter (K2P) distance] Philippine lineages for Macroglossus minimus, Rousettus amplexicaudatus, Megaerops wetmorei, and Cynopterus brachyotis relative to conspecifics from Southeast Asia. Between-island differentiation was also observed for the Philippine endemic Haplonycteris fischeri (> 7% mean between-island K2P distance). From this study, these species may be flagged for taxonomic reevaluation.



The catalog of mammalian species found in the Philippine archipelago is far from complete. Just recently, 28 new species of non-volant mammals were discovered by Heaney et al. (2016a). Certainly, more species can still be discovered, especially in remote and unexplored parts of the archipelago (Heaney et al. 2010). Species with cryptic morphology and habits may also contribute to the number of overlooked taxa, a common occurrence in bats (Campbell et al. 2004, Galimberti et al. 2010). Looking at Vespertilionidae, Phyllostomidae, and Pteropodidae – the three largest families of bats – the number of recognized species in 2005 were 407, 160, and 186, respectively (Simmons 2005). However, based on the latest record in 2017 (ASM 2019), the number of species increased considerably (Vespertiolionidae, 24.07%; Phyllostomidae, 35%; and Pteropodidae 5.4%). . . . read more



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