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Gene. 2000 Dec 23;259(1-2):139-48.

Phylogenetic position of turtles among amniotes: evidence from mitochondrial and nuclear genes.

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The Institute of Statistical Mathematics, 4-6-7 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8569, Japan.


Maximum likelihood analysis, accounting for site-heterogeneity in evolutionary rate with the Gamma-distribution model, was carried out with amino acid sequences of 12 mitochondrial proteins and nucleotide sequences of mitochondrial 12S and 16S rRNAs from three turtles, one squamate, one crocodile, and eight birds. The analysis strongly suggests that turtles are closely related to archosaurs (birds+crocodilians), and it supports both Tree-2: (((birds, crocodilians), turtles), squamates) and Tree-3: ((birds, (crocodilians, turtles)), squamates). A more traditional Tree-1: (((birds, crocodilians), squamates), turtles) and a tree in which turtles are basal to other amniotes were rejected with high statistical significance. Tree-3 has recently been proposed by Hedges and Poling [Science 283 (1999) 998-1001] based mainly on nuclear genes. Therefore, we re-analyzed their data using the maximum likelihood method, and evaluated the total evidence of the analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear data sets. Tree-1 was again rejected strongly. The most likely hypothesis was Tree-3, though Tree-2 remained a plausible candidate.

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