Logo of pnasPNASInfo for AuthorsSubscriptionsAboutThis Article
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jun 15, 1993; 90(12): 5574–5577.

A molecular phylogeny for marine turtles: trait mapping, rate assessment, and conservation relevance.


Nucleotide sequences from the cytochrome b gene of mitochondrial DNA were employed to resolve phylogenetic controversies and to assess molecular evolutionary rates in marine turtles (Chelonioidea). Findings of special relevance to conservation biology include discovery of a distant relationship between Natator and other cheloniid species, the paraphyly of Chelonia mydas with respect to Chelonia agassizi, and genetic distinctiveness of Lepidochelys kempi from Lepidochelys olivacea. A longstanding debate in evolutionary ecology was resolved by phylogenetic mapping of dietary habits, which indicates that the spongivore Eretmochelys imbricata evolved from a carnivorous rather than a herbivorous ancestor. Sequence divergences at intergeneric and interfamilial levels, when assessed against fossil-based separation times, support previous suggestions (from microevolutionary comparisons) that mitochondrial DNA in marine turtles evolves much more slowly than under the "conventional" vertebrate clock. This slow pace of nucleotide replacement is consistent with recent hypotheses linking substitution rate to generation length and metabolic pace.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (961K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Images in this article

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Kimura M. A simple method for estimating evolutionary rates of base substitutions through comparative studies of nucleotide sequences. J Mol Evol. 1980 Dec;16(2):111–120. [PubMed]
  • Avise JC, Bowen BW, Lamb T, Meylan AB, Bermingham E. Mitochondrial DNA evolution at a turtle's pace: evidence for low genetic variability and reduced microevolutionary rate in the Testudines. Mol Biol Evol. 1992 May;9(3):457–473. [PubMed]
  • Bowen BW, Meylan AB, Avise JC. An odyssey of the green sea turtle: Ascension Island revisited. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Jan;86(2):573–576. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Bowen BW, Meylan AB, Avise JC. Evolutionary distinctiveness of the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle. Nature. 1991 Aug 22;352(6337):709–711. [PubMed]
  • Martin AP, Palumbi SR. Body size, metabolic rate, generation time, and the molecular clock. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 May 1;90(9):4087–4091. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Wu CI, Li WH. Evidence for higher rates of nucleotide substitution in rodents than in man. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Mar;82(6):1741–1745. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Lansman RA, Shade RO, Shapira JF, Avise JC. The use of restriction endonucleases to measure mitochondrial DNA sequence relatedness in natural populations. III. Techniques and potential applications. J Mol Evol. 1981;17(4):214–226. [PubMed]
  • Saiki RK, Gelfand DH, Stoffel S, Scharf SJ, Higuchi R, Horn GT, Mullis KB, Erlich HA. Primer-directed enzymatic amplification of DNA with a thermostable DNA polymerase. Science. 1988 Jan 29;239(4839):487–491. [PubMed]
  • Kocher TD, Thomas WK, Meyer A, Edwards SV, Päbo S, Villablanca FX, Wilson AC. Dynamics of mitochondrial DNA evolution in animals: amplification and sequencing with conserved primers. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Aug;86(16):6196–6200. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Sanger F, Nicklen S, Coulson AR. DNA sequencing with chain-terminating inhibitors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1977 Dec;74(12):5463–5467. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Saitou N, Nei M. The neighbor-joining method: a new method for reconstructing phylogenetic trees. Mol Biol Evol. 1987 Jul;4(4):406–425. [PubMed]
  • Meylan A. Spongivory in hawksbill turtles: a diet of glass. Science. 1988 Jan 22;239(4838):393–395. [PubMed]
  • Irwin DM, Kocher TD, Wilson AC. Evolution of the cytochrome b gene of mammals. J Mol Evol. 1991 Feb;32(2):128–144. [PubMed]

Articles from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America are provided here courtesy of National Academy of Sciences


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...