Author(s): Fujita MK, Engstrom TN, Starkey DE, Shaffer HB
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Abstract Introns have gained considerable popularity as markers for molecular phylogenetics. However, no primers exist for a nuclear intron that amplifies across all turtles. Available data from morphology and mitochondrial DNA have not unambiguously resolved relationships within the superfamily Trionychoidea and the family Chelidae, which together form a large portion of extant turtle diversity. We tested the phylogenetic utility of a novel intron from the RNA fingerprint protein 35 (R35) as applied to these two areas of turtle systematics. We found the intron to be a single-copy locus that provides excellent resolving power for lineages among turtles, though problems with alignment made it impossible to infer deeper amniote relationships. Maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood both demonstrated the polyphyly of Trionychoidea and the reciprocal monophyly of Australian/New Guinea and South American chelid turtles. This is the first study to resolve such relationships with strong statistical support, and we suggest that R35 holds great promise for resolving additional persistent problems in the phylogeny of living turtles.
This article was published in Mol Phylogenet Evol
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals