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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2005 Sep;36(3):706-21.

The evolution of the spindlin gene in birds: sequence analysis of an intron of the spindlin W and Z gene reveals four major divisions of the Psittaciformes.

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Animal Genetics Inc., Tallahassee, FL 32312, USA.


The Psittaciformes (parrots, parakeets) are among the most widely held captive birds. Yet, their evolution and their phylogenetic relationships have been relatively little studied. This paper describes the phylogenetic relationships between a number of Psittaciformes as derived from the sequences of the third intron of the Z-chromosomal and W-chromosomal spindlin genes. The Z-chromosomal sequences of the kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), the kea (Nestor notabilis), and the kaka (Nestor meridionalis) from New Zealand form a cluster which is the sister group to all other Psittaciformes. The results show further that the Z-chromosomal sequences of the other species can be divided into two groups based on the occurrence of a sequence element ACCCT. The group with the insert (A) is mainly from species with an Australasian geographical distribution and includes such species as the Lories (Lorius, etc.), the budgerigar (Melospittacus undulatus), and the rosellas (Platycercus). It also includes the African lovebirds (Agapornidae), which are the only representative of group A outside Australasia. Group B, without the insert, includes the neotropical parrots and parakeets such as the amazons (Amazona, etc.), the macaws (Ara, etc.), and the conures (Aratinga, etc.), the Australian Cacatuini and the African species such as the African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus) as well as Coracopsis vasa from Madagascar and Psittrichas fulgidus from New Guinea. The W-chromosomal sequence data show that another division of the Psittacidae is found in the replacement of a pyrimidine-rich segment occurring in many non-psittacines as well as the kakapo (S. habroptilus), the kea (N. notabilis), the kaka (N. meridionalis), and the Cacatuini by a microsatellite consisting of a variable number of TATTA monomers in the other Psittaciformes. The results support a Gondwanan origin of the Psittaciformes and the suggestion that paleogeographic events were a major force in psittacine divergence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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