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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 1997 Oct;8(2):193-204.

The utility of DNA sequences of an intron from the beta-fibrinogen gene in phylogenetic analysis of woodpeckers (Aves: Picidae).

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Department of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 48202, USA.


Estimating phylogenies from DNA sequence data has become the major methodology of molecular phylogenetics. To date, molecular phylogenetics of the vertebrates has been very dependent on mtDNA, but studies involving mtDNA are limited because the several genes comprising the mt-genome are inherited as a single linkage group. The only apparent solution to this problem is to sequence additional genes, each representing a distinct linkage group, so that the resultant gene trees provide independent estimates of the species tree. There exists the need to find novel gene sequences which contain enough phylogenetic information to resolve relationships between closely related species. A possible source is the nuclear-encoded introns, because they evolve more rapidly than exons. We designed primers to amplify and sequence the 7 intron from the beta-fibrinogen gene for a recently evolved group, the woodpeckers. We sequenced the entire intron for 10 specimens representing five species. Nucleotide substitutions are randomly distributed along the length of the intron, suggesting selective neutrality. A preliminary analysis indicates that the phylogenetic signal in the intron is as strong as that in the mitochondrial encoded cytochrome b (cyt b) gene. The topology of the beta-fibrinogen tree is identical to that of the cyt b tree. This analysis demonstrates the ability of the 7 intron of beta-fibrinogen to provide well resolved, independent gene trees for recently evolved groups and establishes it as a source of sequences to be used in other phylogenetic studies.

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