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      Rodent phylogeny revised: analysis of six nuclear genes from all major rodent clades

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          Abstract

          Background

          Rodentia is the most diverse order of placental mammals, with extant rodent species representing about half of all placental diversity. In spite of many morphological and molecular studies, the family-level relationships among rodents and the location of the rodent root are still debated. Although various datasets have already been analyzed to solve rodent phylogeny at the family level, these are difficult to combine because they involve different taxa and genes.

          Results

          We present here the largest protein-coding dataset used to study rodent relationships. It comprises six nuclear genes, 41 rodent species, and eight outgroups. Our phylogenetic reconstructions strongly support the division of Rodentia into three clades: (1) a "squirrel-related clade", (2) a "mouse-related clade", and (3) Ctenohystrica. Almost all evolutionary relationships within these clades are also highly supported. The primary remaining uncertainty is the position of the root. The application of various models and techniques aimed to remove non-phylogenetic signal was unable to solve the basal rodent trifurcation.

          Conclusion

          Sequencing and analyzing a large sequence dataset enabled us to resolve most of the evolutionary relationships among Rodentia. Our findings suggest that the uncertainty regarding the position of the rodent root reflects the rapid rodent radiation that occurred in the Paleocene rather than the presence of conflicting phylogenetic and non-phylogenetic signals in the dataset.

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          Most cited references60

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          ProtTest: selection of best-fit models of protein evolution.

          Using an appropriate model of amino acid replacement is very important for the study of protein evolution and phylogenetic inference. We have built a tool for the selection of the best-fit model of evolution, among a set of candidate models, for a given protein sequence alignment. ProtTest is available under the GNU license from http://darwin.uvigo.es
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            Codon-substitution models for heterogeneous selection pressure at amino acid sites.

            Comparison of relative fixation rates of synonymous (silent) and nonsynonymous (amino acid-altering) mutations provides a means for understanding the mechanisms of molecular sequence evolution. The nonsynonymous/synonymous rate ratio (omega = d(N)d(S)) is an important indicator of selective pressure at the protein level, with omega = 1 meaning neutral mutations, omega 1 diversifying positive selection. Amino acid sites in a protein are expected to be under different selective pressures and have different underlying omega ratios. We develop models that account for heterogeneous omega ratios among amino acid sites and apply them to phylogenetic analyses of protein-coding DNA sequences. These models are useful for testing for adaptive molecular evolution and identifying amino acid sites under diversifying selection. Ten data sets of genes from nuclear, mitochondrial, and viral genomes are analyzed to estimate the distributions of omega among sites. In all data sets analyzed, the selective pressure indicated by the omega ratio is found to be highly heterogeneous among sites. Previously unsuspected Darwinian selection is detected in several genes in which the average omega ratio across sites is 1. Genes undergoing positive selection include the beta-globin gene from vertebrates, mitochondrial protein-coding genes from hominoids, the hemagglutinin (HA) gene from human influenza virus A, and HIV-1 env, vif, and pol genes. Tests for the presence of positively selected sites and their subsequent identification appear quite robust to the specific distributional form assumed for omega and can be achieved using any of several models we implement. However, we encountered difficulties in estimating the precise distribution of omega among sites from real data sets.
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              Resolution of the early placental mammal radiation using Bayesian phylogenetics.

              Molecular phylogenetic studies have resolved placental mammals into four major groups, but have not established the full hierarchy of interordinal relationships, including the position of the root. The latter is critical for understanding the early biogeographic history of placentals. We investigated placental phylogeny using Bayesian and maximum-likelihood methods and a 16.4-kilobase molecular data set. Interordinal relationships are almost entirely resolved. The basal split is between Afrotheria and other placentals, at about 103 million years, and may be accounted for by the separation of South America and Africa in the Cretaceous. Crown-group Eutheria may have their most recent common ancestry in the Southern Hemisphere (Gondwana).
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Evol Biol
                BMC Evolutionary Biology
                BioMed Central
                1471-2148
                2009
                2 April 2009
                : 9
                : 71
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv 69978, Israel
                [2 ]Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Box 210006, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45221-0006, USA
                [3 ]Department of Cell Research and Immunology, George S Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv 69978, Israel
                [4 ]Department of Biology, Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne Street, Houston, TX 77004, USA
                Article
                1471-2148-9-71
                10.1186/1471-2148-9-71
                2674048
                19341461
                23be940e-cd47-4bef-914f-005c19a5ef85
                Copyright © 2009 Blanga-Kanfi et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Research Article

                Evolutionary Biology
                Evolutionary Biology

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