• 1 Department of Biological Sciences, School of Medical and Life Sciences, Sunway University, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
  • 2 Division of Biomedical & Life Sciences, Faculty of Health & Medicine, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
  • 3 Conservation Ecology Program, King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, Bangkok, Thailand
  • 4 Monash University Malaysia Genomics Facility, School of Science, Jalan Lagoon Selatan, Bandar Sunway, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
  • 5 Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia
  • 6 and National Wildlife Forensic Laboratory (NWFL), Ex-situ Conservation Division, Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
J Hered, 2021 03 29;112(2):214-220.
PMID: 33439997 DOI: 10.1093/jhered/esab004


Sun bear populations are fragmented and at risk from habitat loss and exploitation for body parts. These threats are made worse by significant gaps in knowledge of sun bear population genetic diversity, population connectivity, and taxonomically significant management units. Using a complete sun bear mitochondrial genome, we developed a set of mitochondrial markers to assess haplotype variation and the evolutionary history of sun bears from Peninsular (West) Malaysia and Sabah (East Malaysia). Genetic samples from 28 sun bears from Peninsular Malaysia, 36 from Sabah, and 18 from Thailand were amplified with primers targeting a 1800 bp region of the mitochondrial genome including the complete mitochondrial control region and adjacent genes. Sequences were analyzed using phylogenetic methods. We identified 51 mitochondrial haplotypes among 82 sun bears. Phylogenetic and network analyses provided strong support for a deep split between Malaysian sun bears and sun bears in East Thailand and Yunnan province in China. The Malaysian lineage was further subdivided into two clades: Peninsular Malaysian and Malaysian Borneo (Sabah). Sun bears from Thailand occurred in both Sabah and Peninsular Malaysian clades. Our study supports recent findings that sun bears from Sundaland form a distinct clade from those in China and Indochina with Thailand possessing lineages from the three clades. Importantly, we demonstrate a more recent and clear genetic delineation between sun bears from the Malay Peninsula and Sabah indicating historical barriers to gene flow within the Sundaic region.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.