• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of pnasPNASInfo for AuthorsSubscriptionsAboutThis Article
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Oct 15, 1993; 90(20): 9557–9561.

Mitochondrial DNA sequence evolution in the Arctoidea.


Some taxa in the superfamily Arctoidea, such as the giant panda and the lesser panda, have presented puzzles to taxonomists. In the present study, approximately 397 bases of the cytochrome b gene, 364 bases of the 12S rRNA gene, and 74 bases of the tRNA(Thr) and tRNA(Pro) genes from the giant panda, lesser panda, kinkajou, raccoon, coatimundi, and all species of the Ursidae were sequenced. The high transition/transversion ratios in cytochrome b and RNA genes prior to saturation suggest that the presumed transition bias may represent a trend for some mammalian lineages rather than strictly a primate phenomenon. Transversions in the 12S rRNA gene accumulate in arctoids at about half the rate reported for artiodactyls. Different arctoid lineages evolve at different rates: the kinkajou, a procyonid, evolves the fastest, 1.7-1.9 times faster than the slowest lineage that comprises the spectacled and polar bears. Generation-time effect can only partially explain the different rates of nucleotide substitution in arctoids. Our results based on parsimony analysis show that the giant panda is more closely related to bears than to the lesser panda; the lesser panda is neither closely related to bears nor to the New World procyonids. The kinkajou, raccoon, and coatimundi diverged from each other very early, even though they group together. The polar bear is closely related to the spectacled bear, and they began to diverge from a common mitochondrial ancestor approximately 2 million years ago. Relationships of the remaining five bear species are derived.

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 (1.1M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • O'Brien SJ, Nash WG, Wildt DE, Bush ME, Benveniste RE. A molecular solution to the riddle of the giant panda's phylogeny. Nature. 1985 Sep 12;317(6033):140–144. [PubMed]
  • Coggin JH., Jr Oncofetal antigens. Nature. 319(6052):428–428. [PubMed]
  • Nash WG, O'Brien SJ. A comparative chromosome banding analysis of the Ursidae and their relationship to other carnivores. Cytogenet Cell Genet. 1987;45(3-4):206–212. [PubMed]
  • Tagle DA, Miyamoto MM, Goodman M, Hofmann O, Braunitzer G, Göltenboth R, Jalanka H. Hemoglobin of pandas: phylogenetic relationships of carnivores as ascertained with protein sequence data. Naturwissenschaften. 1986 Aug;73(8):512–514. [PubMed]
  • Zhang YP, Shi LM. Riddle of the giant panda. Nature. 1991 Aug 15;352(6336):573–573. [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]
  • Irwin DM, Kocher TD, Wilson AC. Evolution of the cytochrome b gene of mammals. J Mol Evol. 1991 Feb;32(2):128–144. [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]
  • Anderson S, de Bruijn MH, Coulson AR, Eperon IC, Sanger F, Young IG. Complete sequence of bovine mitochondrial DNA. Conserved features of the mammalian mitochondrial genome. J Mol Biol. 1982 Apr 25;156(4):683–717. [PubMed]
  • Allard MW, Honeycutt RL. Nucleotide sequence variation in the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene and the phylogeny of African mole-rats (Rodentia: Bathyergidae). Mol Biol Evol. 1992 Jan;9(1):27–40. [PubMed]
  • Brown WM, Prager EM, Wang A, Wilson AC. Mitochondrial DNA sequences of primates: tempo and mode of evolution. J Mol Evol. 1982;18(4):225–239. [PubMed]
  • Hixson JE, Brown WM. A comparison of the small ribosomal RNA genes from the mitochondrial DNA of the great apes and humans: sequence, structure, evolution, and phylogenetic implications. Mol Biol Evol. 1986 Jan;3(1):1–18. [PubMed]
  • Wheeler WC, Honeycutt RL. Paired sequence difference in ribosomal RNAs: evolutionary and phylogenetic implications. Mol Biol Evol. 1988 Jan;5(1):90–96. [PubMed]
  • Gutell RR, Weiser B, Woese CR, Noller HF. Comparative anatomy of 16-S-like ribosomal RNA. Prog Nucleic Acid Res Mol Biol. 1985;32:155–216. [PubMed]
  • Janczewski DN, Yuhki N, Gilbert DA, Jefferson GT, O'Brien SJ. Molecular phylogenetic inference from saber-toothed cat fossils of Rancho La Brea. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Oct 15;89(20):9769–9773. [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]
  • Britten RJ, Kohne DE. Repeated sequences in DNA. Hundreds of thousands of copies of DNA sequences have been incorporated into the genomes of higher organisms. Science. 1968 Aug 9;161(3841):529–540. [PubMed]
  • Mayr E. Uncertainty in science: is the giant panda a bear or a raccoon? Nature. 323(6091):769–771. [PubMed]
  • Hofmann O, Braunitzer G. The primary structure of the hemoglobin of spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus, Carnivora). Biol Chem Hoppe Seyler. 1987 Aug;368(8):949–954. [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...