Comparing the genetic diversity of late Pleistocene Bison with Modern Bison bison using ancient DNA techniques and the mitochondrial DNA control region.
The transition between the Pleistocene and Holocene Epochs brought about a mass extinction of many large mammals. The genetic consequences of such widespread extinctions have not been well studied. Using ancient DNA and phylogenetic techniques, we compared the genetic diversity and phylogenetic relatedness of extinct Pleistocene Bison ranging from Siberia to mid-latitude North America (10,000 ybp to 50,000 ybp) to extant Bison bison. The mitochondrial DNA control region was sequenced from 10 Bison priscus skulls obtained from the Kolyma Region of Siberia, Russia. Control region sequences from other Pleistocene Bison and Bison bison were obtained from Genbank. Our analysis indicates a measurable loss of genetic diversity in Bison bison compared to Pleistocene Bison. Furthermore, the Pleistocene Bison population was strongest in North America from a time period of 30,000 ybp to 10,000 ybp, and the genetic diversity present in this population is not represented in the Bison bison population.