Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Complete mitogenome of asiatic lion resolves phylogenetic status within Panthera

Snehal B Bagatharia*, Madhvi N Joshi, Rohan V Pandya, Aanal S Pandit, Riddhi P Patel, Shivangi M Desai, Anu Sharma, Omkar Panchal, Falguni P Jasmani and Akshay K Saxena

Author Affiliations

Gujarat State Biotechnology Mission, Department of Science and Technology, Government of Gujarat, Block-11, 9th Floor, Udyog Bhavan, Sector 11, Gandhinagar 382 017, Gujarat, India

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:572  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-572

Published: 23 August 2013



The origin, evolution and speciation of the lion, has been subject of interest, debate and study. The present surviving lions of the genus Panthera comprise of eight sub-species inclusive of Asiatic lion Panthera leo persica of India's Gir forest. Except for the Asiatic lion, the other seven subspecies are found in different parts of Africa. There have been different opinions regarding the phylogenetic status of Panthera leo, as well as classifying lions of different geographic regions into subspecies and races. In the present study, mitogenome sequence of P. leo persica deduced, using Ion Torrent PGM to assess phylogeny and evolution which may play an increasingly important role in conservation biology.


The mtDNA sequence of P. leo persica is 17,057 bp in length with 40.8% GC content. Annotation of mitogenome revealed total 37 genes, including 13 protein coding, 2 rRNA and 22 tRNA. Phylogenetic analysis based on whole mitogenome, suggests Panthera pardus as a neighbouring species to P. leo with species divergence at ~2.96 mya.


This work presents first report on complete mitogenome of Panthera leo persica. It sheds light on the phylogenetic and evolutionary status within and across Felidae members. The result compared and evaluated with earlier reports of Felidae shows alteration of phylogenetic status and species evolution. This study may provide information on genetic diversity and population stability.

Asiatic lion; Big cats; Panthera leo persica; Mitogenome; Ion torrent; Phylogeny; Evolution; Felidae; Divergence time