Resolving the root of the avian mitogenomic tree by breaking up long branches Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Incomplete taxon sampling has been a major problem in resolving the early divergences in birds. Five new mitochondrial genomes are reported here (brush-turkey, lyrebird, suboscine flycatcher, turkey vulture, and a gull) and three break up long branches that tended to attract the distant reptilian outgroup. These long branches were to galliforms, and to oscine and suboscine passeriformes. Breaking these long branches leaves the root, as inferred by maximum likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses, between paleognaths and neognaths. This means that morphological, nuclear, and mitochondrial data are now in agreement on the position of the root of the avian tree and we can, move on to other questions. An overview is then given of the deepest divisions in the mitogenomic tree inferred from complete mitochondrial genomes. The strict monophyly of both the galloanseres and the passerines is strongly supported, leaving the deep six-way split within Neoaves as the next major question for which resolution is still lacking. Incomplete taxon sampling was also a problem for Neoaves, and although some resolution is now available there are still problems because current phylogenetic methods still fail to account for real features of DNA sequence evolution.

authors

  • Poinar, Hendrik
  • Slack, Kerryn E
  • Delsuc, Frédéric
  • Mclenachan, Patricia A
  • Arnason, Ulfur
  • Penny, David

publication date

  • January 2007