Whole-mitogenome analysis unveils previously undescribed genetic diversity in cane toads across their invasion trajectory

Kelton Cheung, Timothy G. Amos, Rick Shine, Jayna L. DeVore, Simon Ducatez, Richard J. Edwards, Lee Ann Rollins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Invasive species offer insights into rapid adaptation to novel environments. The iconic cane toad (Rhinella marina) is an excellent model for studying rapid adaptation during invasion. Previous research using the mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase 3 (ND3) gene in Hawai'ian and Australian invasive populations found a single haplotype, indicating an extreme genetic bottleneck following introduction. Nuclear genetic diversity also exhibited reductions across the genome in these two populations. Here, we investigated the mitochondrial genomics of cane toads across this invasion trajectory. We created the first reference mitochondrial genome for this species using long-read sequence data. We combined whole-genome resequencing data of 15 toads with published transcriptomic data of 125 individuals to construct nearly complete mitochondrial genomes from the native (French Guiana) and introduced (Hawai'i and Australia) ranges for population genomic analyses. In agreement with previous investigations of these populations, we identified genetic bottlenecks in both Hawai'ian and Australian introduced populations, alongside evidence of population expansion in the invasive ranges. Although mitochondrial genetic diversity in introduced populations was reduced, our results revealed that it had been underestimated: we identified 45 mitochondrial haplotypes in Hawai'ian and Australian samples, none of which were found in the native range. Additionally, we identified two distinct groups of haplotypes from the native range, separated by a minimum of 110 base pairs (0.6%). These findings enhance our understanding of how invasion has shaped the genetic landscape of this species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere11115
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2024


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