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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2007 Sep;44(3):1017-30. Epub 2007 Feb 16.

Nuclear gene phylogeny of narrow-mouthed toads (Family: Microhylidae) and a discussion of competing hypotheses concerning their biogeographical origins.

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  • 1Lehrstuhl für Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, P.O. Box M618, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.


The family Microhylidae has a large circumtropic distribution and contains about 400 species in a highly subdivided taxonomy. Relationships among its constituent taxa remained controversial due to homoplasy in morphological characters, resulting in conflicting phylogenetic hypotheses. A phylogeny based on four nuclear genes (rag-1, rag-2, tyrosinase, BDNF) and one mitochondrial gene (CO1) of representatives of all currently recognized subfamilies uncovers a basal polytomy between several subfamilial clades. A sister group relationship between the cophylines and scaphiophrynines is resolved with moderate support, which unites these endemic Malagasy taxa for the first time. The American members of the subfamily Microhylinae are resolved to form a clade entirely separate from the Asian members of that subfamily. Otophryne is excluded from the subfamily Microhylinae, and resolved as a basal taxon. The placement of the Asian dyscophine Calluella nested within the Asian Microhyline clade rather than with the genus Dyscophus is corroborated by our data. Bayesian estimates of the divergence time of extant Microhylidae (47-90 Mya) and among the subclades within the family are discussed in frameworks of alternative possible biogeographic scenarios.

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