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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jul 20;101(29):10650-4. Epub 2004 Jul 12.

Primate jumping genes elucidate strepsirrhine phylogeny.

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  • 1Primate Genetics, Gene Bank of Primates, German Primate Center, Kellnerweg 4, 37077 Göttingen, Germany.


Transposable elements provide a highly informative marker system for analyzing evolutionary histories. To solve controversially discussed topics in strepsirrhine phylogeny, we characterized 61 loci containing short interspersed elements (SINEs) and determined the SINE presence-absence pattern at orthologous loci in a representative strepsirrhine panel. This SINE monolocus study was complemented by a Southern blot analysis tracing multiple loci of two different strepsirrhine specific SINEs. The results thereof were combined with phylogenetic trees reconstructed on the basis of complete mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences from all recognized strepsirrhine genera. Here we present evidence for (i) a sister group relationship of Malagasy Chiromyiformes and Lemuriformes, (ii) Lorisidae being a monophyletic sister clade to the Galagidae, and (iii) common ancestry of African and Asian lorisids. Based on these findings, we conclude that strepsirrhines originated in Africa and that Madagascar and Asia were colonized by respective single immigration events. In agreement with paleocontinental data, the molecular analyses suggest a crossing of the Mozambique channel by rafting between the late Cretaceous and the middle Eocene, whereas Asia was most likely colonized between the early Eocene and the middle Oligocene on a continental route. Furthermore, one SINE integration links the two Lemuriformes families, Lemuridae and Indriidae, indicating a common origin of diurnality or cathemerality and a later reversal to nocturnality by the indriid genus Avahi.

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