Evolution and phylogenetic information content of mitochondrial genomic structural features illustrated with acrodont lizards

J. Robert Macey, James A. Schulte, Allan Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations

Abstract

DNA sequences from 195 squamate reptiles indicate that mitochondrial gene order is the most reliable phylogenetic character establishing monophyly of acrodont lizards and of the snake families Boidae, Colubridae, and Viperidae. Gene order shows no evidence of evolutionary parallelisms or reversals in these taxa. Derived secondary structures of mitochondrial tRNAs also prove to be useful phylogenetic characters showing no reversals. Parallelisms for secondary structures of tRNAs are restricted to deep lineages that are separated by at least 200 million years of independent evolution. Presence of a stem-and-loop structure between the genes encoding tRNAAsn and tRNACys, where the replication origin for light-strand synthesis is typically located in vertebrate mitochondrial genomes, is found to undergo at least three and possibly as many as seven evolutionary shifts, most likely parallel losses. This character is therefore a less desirable phylogenetic marker than the other structural changes examined. Sequencing regions that contain multiple genes, including tRNA genes, may be preferable to the common practice of obtaining single-gene fragments for phylogenetic inference because it permits observation of major structural changes in the mitochondrial genome. Such characters may occasionally provide phylogenetic information on relatively short internal branches for which base substitutional changes are expected to be relatively uninformative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-277
Number of pages21
JournalSystematic Biology
Volume49
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2000

Keywords

  • Acrodonta
  • Gene organization
  • Mitochondrial DNA, phylogenetics
  • Replication
  • Reptilia
  • tRNA

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