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Mol Biol Evol. 1998 Dec;15(12):1706-18.

28S and 18S rDNA sequences support the monophyly of lampreys and hagfishes.

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Department of Zoology, Washington State University, Pullman 99164-4236, USA.


Resolving the interrelationships of three major extant lineages of vertebrates (hagfishes, lampreys, and gnathostomes) is a particularly important issue in evolution, because the basal resolution critically influences our understanding of primitive vertebrate characters. A consensus has emerged over the last 20 years that lampreys are the sister group to the gnathostomes and the hagfishes represent an ancient, basal lineage. This hypothesis has essentially displaced the classical hypothesis of monophyly of the cyclostomes (lampreys plus hagfishes). To test these hypotheses, we compared nearly complete ribosomal DNA sequences from each of these major lineages, as well as those from a cephalochordate and a urochordate, which represent a paraphyletic outgroup for assessing the basal vertebrate relationships. For this comparison, 92%-99% complete 28S rDNA sequences were obtained from the lancelet Branchiostoma floridae, the hagfish Eptatretus stouti, the lamprey Petromyzon marinus, and cartilaginous fishes Hydrolagus colliei and Squalus acanthias and were then analyzed with previously reported 28S and 18S rDNA sequences from other chordates. We conducted conventional (nonparametric) bootstrap analyses, under maximum-likelihood, parsimony, and minimum-evolution (using LogDet distances) criteria, of both 28S and 18S rDNA sequences considered separately and combined. All these analyses provide moderate to very strong support for the monophyly of the cyclostomes. Furthermore, the currently accepted hypothesis of a lamprey-gnathostome clade is moderately rejected by the Kishino-Hasegawa test (P = 0.099) and resoundingly rejected by parametric bootstrap tests (P < 0.01) in favor of monophyly of living cyclostomes. Another significant finding is that the hagfish E. stouti has the longest 28S rDNA gene known in any organism (> 5,200 nt).

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