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Syst Biol. 2004 Aug;53(4):533-53.

Phylogeny and divergence-date estimates of rapid radiations in muroid rodents based on multiple nuclear genes.

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  • 1Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-1100, USA.


The muroid rodents are the largest superfamily of mammals, containing nearly one third of all mammal species. We report on a phylogenetic study comprising 53 genera sequenced for four nuclear genes, GHR, BRCA1, RAG1, and c-myc, totaling up to 6400 nucleotides. Most relationships among the subfamilies are resolved. All four genes yield nearly identical phylogenies, differing only in five key regions, four of which may represent particularly rapid radiations. Support is very strong for a fundamental division of the mole rats of the subfamilies Spalacinae and Rhizomyinae from all other muroids. Among the other "core" muroids, a rapid radiation led to at least four distinct lineages: Asian Calomyscus, an African clade of at least four endemic subfamilies, including the diverse Nesomyinae of Madagascar, a hamster clade with maximum diversity in the New World, and an Old World clade including gerbils and the diverse Old World mice and rats (Murinae). The Deomyinae, recently removed from the Murinae, is well supported as the sister group to the gerbils (Gerbillinae). Four key regions appear to represent rapid radiations and, despite a large amount of sequence data, remain poorly resolved: the base of the "core" muroids, among the five cricetid (hamster) subfamilies, within a large clade of Sigmodontinae endemic to South America, and among major geographic lineages of Old World Murinae. Because of the detailed taxon sampling within the Murinae, we are able to refine the fossil calibration of a rate-smoothed molecular clock and apply this clock to date key events in muroid evolution. We calculate rate differences among the gene regions and relate those differences to relative contribution of each gene to the support for various nodes. The among-gene variance in support is greatest for the shortest branches. We present a revised classification for this largest but most unsettled mammalian superfamily.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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