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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2006 Dec;41(3):663-89. Epub 2006 Jun 2.

Evolution of mitochondrial relationships and biogeography of Palearctic green toads (Bufo viridis subgroup) with insights in their genomic plasticity.

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Department of Integrative Biology, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ), University of California-Berkeley, 3101 Valley of Life Sciences Building #3160, Berkeley, CA 94720-3160, USA.


Taxa involving three bisexually reproducing ploidy levels make green toads a unique amphibian system. We put a cytogenetic dataset from Central Asia in a molecular framework and apply phylogenetic and demographic methods to data from the entire Palearctic range. We study the mitochondrial relationships of diploids to infer their phylogeography and the maternal ancestry of polyploids. Control regions (and tRNAs between ND1 and ND2 in representatives) characterize a deeply branched assemblage of twelve haplotype groups, diverged since the Lower Miocene. Polyploidy has evolved several times: Central Asian tetraploids (B. oblongus, B. pewzowi) have at least two maternal origins. Intriguingly, the mitochondrial ancestor of morphologically distinctive, sexually reproducing triploid taxa (B. pseudoraddei) from Karakoram and Hindukush represents a different lineage. We report another potential case of bisexual triploid toads (B. zugmayeri). Identical d-loops in diploids and tetraploids from Iran and Turkmenistan, which differ in morphology, karyotypes and calls, suggest multiple origins and retained polymorphism and/or hybridization. A similar system involves diploids, triploids and tetraploids from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan where green toads exemplify vertebrate genomic plasticity. A new form from Sicily and its African sister species (B. boulengeri) allow internal calibration and divergence time estimates for major clades. The subgroup may have originated in Eurasia rather than Africa since the earliest diverged lineages (B. latastii, B. surdus) and earliest fossils occur in Asia. We delineate ranges, contact and hybrid zones. Phylogeography, including one of the first non-avian datasets from Central Asian high mountains, reflects Quaternary climate and glaciation.

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