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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2002 Feb;22(2):184-92.

Complete mitochondrial DNA of the hagfish, Eptatretus burgeri: the comparative analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences strongly supports the cyclostome monophyly.

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Unité de Biologie Moléculaire du Gène, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


The phylogenetic position of cyclostomes, i.e., the relationships between hagfishes, lampreys, and jawed vertebrates is an unresolved problem. Anatomical data support the paraphyly of cyclostomes, whereas nuclear genes data support monophyly of cyclostomes. Previous results obtained using mitochondrial DNA are ambiguous, presumably due to a lack of informative sequences. By adding the complete mtDNA of a hagfish, Eptatretus burgeri, we have generated a novel data set for sequences of hagfishes and of lampreys. The addition of this mtDNA sequence to the 12 taxa we have already used becomes sufficient to obtain unambiguous results. This data set, which includes sequences of mtDNA of animals closely related to the lamprey/hagfish node, was used in a phylogenetic analysis with two independent statistical approaches and unequivocally supported the monophyly of cyclostomes. Thus molecular data, i.e., our results and those obtained using nuclear genes, conclude that hagfishes and lampreys form a clade.

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