Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Global population divergence and admixture of the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus)

Puckett, Emily E.; Park, Jane; Combs, Matthew; Blum, Michael J.; Bryant, Juliet E.; Caccone, Adalgisa; Costa, Federico; Deinum, Eva E.; Esther, Alexandra; Himsworth, Chelsea G.; Keightley, Peter D.; Ko, Albert; Lundkvist, Åke; McElhinney, Lorraine M.; Morand, Serge; Robins, Judith; Russell, James; Strand, Tanja M.; Suarez, Olga; Yon, Lisa; Munshi-South, Jason


Emily E. Puckett

Jane Park

Matthew Combs

Michael J. Blum

Juliet E. Bryant

Adalgisa Caccone

Federico Costa

Eva E. Deinum

Alexandra Esther

Chelsea G. Himsworth

Peter D. Keightley

Albert Ko

Åke Lundkvist

Lorraine M. McElhinney

Serge Morand

Judith Robins

James Russell

Tanja M. Strand

Olga Suarez

Associate Professor

Jason Munshi-South


Native to China and Mongolia, the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) now enjoys a worldwide distribution. While black rats and the house mouse tracked the regional development of human agricultural settlements, brown rats did not appear in Europe until the 1500s, suggesting their range expansion was a response to relatively recent increases in global trade. We inferred the global phylogeography of brown rats using 32 k SNPs, and detected 13 evolutionary clusters within five expansion routes. One cluster arose following a southward expansion into Southeast Asia. Three additional clusters arose from two independent eastward expansions: one expansion from Russia to the Aleutian Archipelago, and a second to western North America. Westward expansion resulted in the colonization of Europe from which subsequent rapid colonization of Africa, the Americas and Australasia occurred, and multiple evolutionary clusters were detected. An astonishing degree of fine-grained clustering between and within sampling sites underscored the extent to which urban heterogeneity shaped genetic structure of commensal rodents. Surprisingly, few individuals were recent migrants, suggesting that recruitment into established populations is limited. Understanding the global population structure of R. norvegicus offers novel perspectives on the forces driving the spread of zoonotic disease, and aids in development of rat eradication programmes.


Puckett, E. E., Park, J., Combs, M., Blum, M. J., Bryant, J. E., Caccone, A., …Munshi-South, J. (2016). Global population divergence and admixture of the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 283(1841),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 26, 2016
Publication Date Oct 19, 2016
Deposit Date Oct 20, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 20, 2016
Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Print ISSN 0962-8452
Electronic ISSN 1471-2954
Publisher Royal Society, The
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 283
Issue 1841
Article Number 20161762
Keywords commensal, invasive species, population genomics, cityscapes, phylogeography, RAD-Seq
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:


Puckett_etal-RatPhylogeog-bioarXiv.pdf (1.1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:

You might also like

Downloadable Citations