Phylogeographic study of the Bufo gargarizans species complex, with emphasis on Northeast Asia

Changhoon LEE, Jonathan J. FONG, Jian-Ping JIANG, Pi-Peng LI, Bruce WALDMAN, Jong Ryol CHONG, Hang LEE*, Mi-Sook MIN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


We conduct a phylogeographic and population genetic study of the Asiatic toad (Bufo gargarizans) to understand its evolutionary history, and the influence of geology and climate. A total of 292 individuals from 94 locations were genotyped for two mitochondrial loci (cytb, ND2) and five nuclear introns (Sox9-2, Rho-3, CCNB2-3, UCH-2, and DBI-2), and we performed a suite of phylogenetic, population genetic, and divergence dating analyses. The phylogenetic trees constructed using mitochondrial loci inferred B. gargarizans being divided into two major groups: China mainland and Northeast Asia (Northeast China, Russia, and Korean Peninsula). As with previous studies of this species, we recover population genetic structure not tied to geographic region. Additionally, we discover a new genetic clade restricted to Northeast Asia that points towards the Korean Peninsula being a glacial refugium during the Pleistocene. The weak phylogeographic pattern of B. gargarizans is likely the result of multiple biological, anthropogenic, and historical factors–robust dispersal abilities as a consequence of physiological adaptations, human translocation, geologic activity, and glacial cycles of the Pleistocene. We highlight the complex geologic and climatic history of Northeast Asia and encourage further research to understand its impact on the biodiversity in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-444
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Cells and Systems
Issue number6
Early online date20 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

This research was supported by grants from the National Research Foundation of Korea [grant number 2012K1A2B1A03000496] funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea (MSIP), and the Research Institute of Basic Sciences, Seoul National University (to B.W.), and from the National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant number 31211140342] (to P.L.), SINO-BON (to J.P.J.).


  • Amphibian
  • Bufo gargarizans
  • phylogeny
  • Northeast Asia
  • Korean Peninsula
  • pleistocene
  • glacial refugia


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