Four new avian mitochondrial genomes help get to basic evolutionary questions in the late Cretaceous

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Good phylogenetic trees are required to test hypotheses about evolutionary processes. We report four new avian mitochondrial genomes, which together with an improved method of phylogenetic analysis for vertebrate mt genomes give results for three questions in avian evolution. The new nit genomes are: magpie goose (Anseranas semipalmata), ail owl (morepork, Ninox novaeseelandiae); a basal passerine (rifleman, or New Zealand wren, Acanthisitta chloris); and a parrot (kakapo or owl-parrot, Strigops habroptilus). The magpie goose provides an important new calibration point for avian evolution because the well-studied Presbyornis fossils are on the lineage to ducks and geese, after the separation of the magpie goose. We find, as with other animal mitochondrial genomes, that RY-coding is helpful in adjusting for biases between pyrimidines and between purinies. When RY-coding is used at third positions of the codon, the root occurs between paleognath and neognath birds (as expected from morphological and nuclear data). In addition, passerines form a relatively old group in Neoaves, and many modern avian lineages diverged during the Cretaceous. Although many aspects of the avian tree are stable, additional taxon sampling is required.


  • GL Harrison
  • PA McLenachan
  • MJ Phillips
  • Kerryn Slack
  • A Cooper
  • D Penny
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Biologiska vetenskaper


Sidor (från-till)974-983
TidskriftMolecular biology and evolution
Utgåva nummer6
StatusPublished - 2004
Peer review utfördJa