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Syst Biol. 2005 Jun;54(3):391-400.

Mitogenomic perspectives on the origin and phylogeny of living amphibians.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Gene Engineering of the Ministry of Education, Biotechnology Research Center, Zhongshan University, Guangzhou, 510275, P. R. China. lsbrc04@zsu.edu.cn

Abstract

Establishing the relationships among modern amphibians (lissamphibians) and their ancient relatives is necessary for our understanding of early tetrapod evolution. However, the phylogeny is still intractable because of the highly specialized anatomy and poor fossil record of lissamphibians. Paleobiologists are still not sure whether lissamphibians are monophyletic or polyphyletic, and which ancient group (temnospondyls or lepospondyls) is most closely related to them. In an attempt to address these problems, eight mitochondrial genomes of living amphibians were determined and compared with previously published amphibian sequences. A comprehensive molecular phylogenetic analysis of nucleotide sequences yields a highly resolved tree congruent with the traditional hypotheses (Batrachia). By using a molecular clock-independent approach for inferring dating information from molecular phylogenies, we present here the first molecular timescale for lissamphibian evolution, which suggests that lissamphibians first emerged about 330 million years ago. By observing the fit between molecular and fossil times, we suggest that the temnospondyl-origin hypothesis for lissamphibians is more credible than other hypotheses. Moreover, under this timescale, the potential geographic origins of the main living amphibian groups are discussed: (i) advanced frogs (neobatrachians) may possess an Africa-India origin; (ii) salamanders may have originated in east Asia; (iii) the tropic forest of the Triassic Pangaea may be the place of origin for the ancient caecilians. An accurate phylogeny with divergence times can be also helpful to direct the search for "missing" fossils, and can benefit comparative studies of amphibian evolution.

PMID:
16012106
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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