Characterization and assessment of an avian repetitive DNA sequence as an icterid phylogenetic marker
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The first tandemly repeated sequence examined in a passerine bird, a 431-bp PstI fragment named pMAT1, has been cloned from the genome of the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater). The sequence represents about 5-10% of the genome (about 4 x 10(5) copies) and yields prominent ethidium bromide stained bands when genomic DNA cut with a variety of restriction enzymes is electrophoresed in agarose gels. A particularly striking ladder of fragments is apparent when the DNA is cut with HinfI, indicative of a tandem arrangement of the monomer. The cloned PstI monomer has been sequenced, revealing no internal repeated structure. There are sequences that hybridize with pMAT1 found in related nine-primaried oscines but not in more distantly related oscines, suboscines, or nonpasserine species. Little sequence similarity to tandemly repeated PstI cut sequences from the merlin (Falco columbarius), saurus crane (Grus antigone), or Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata) or to HinfI digested sequence from the Toulouse goose (Anser anser) was detected. The isolated sequence was used as a probe to examine DNA samples of eight members of the tribe Icterini. This examination revealed phylogenetically informative characters. The repeat contains cutting sites from a number of restriction enzymes, which, if sufficiently polymorphic, would provide new phylogenetic characters. Sequences like these, conserved within a species, but variable between closely related species, may be very useful for phylogenetic studies of closely related taxa.
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