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, 17 (2), 280-93

The Bushlike Radiation of Muroid Rodents Is Exemplified by the Molecular Phylogeny of the LCAT Nuclear Gene


The Bushlike Radiation of Muroid Rodents Is Exemplified by the Molecular Phylogeny of the LCAT Nuclear Gene

J Michaux et al. Mol Phylogenet Evol.


Phylogenetic relationships among 40 extant species of rodents, with an emphasis on the taxonomic sampling of Muridae and Dipodidae, were studied using sequences of the nuclear protein-coding gene LCAT (lecithin cholesterol acyl transferase). Analysis of 804 bp from the exonic regions of LCAT confirmed many traditional groupings in and around Muridae. A strong support was found for the families Muridae (represented by 29 species) and Dipodidae (5 species). Compared with Sciuridae, Gliridae, and Caviomorpha, the Dipodidae family appeared the closest relative of Muridae, confirming the suprafamilial Myodonta concept. Within the speciose family Muridae, the first branching leads to the fossorial Spalacinae and semifossorial Rhyzomyinae. The remaining components of Muridae appear as a polytomy from which are issued Sigmodontinae, Calomyscinae, Arvicolinae, Cricetinae, Mystromyinae, Nesomyinae, and some Dendromurinae (Steatomys and Dendromus). This phylogeny is interpreted as the result of a bushlike radiation at the end of the early Miocene, leading to emergence of most living subfamilies. The separation between three additional taxa, Murinae, Gerbillinae, and "Acomyinae" (which comprises the genera Acomys, Deomys, Uranomys, and Lophuromys), has occurred more recently from a common ancestor issued from the main basal radiation. As previously shown by other molecular studies, the vlei rats, Otomyinae, are nested within Old World Murinae. In the same way, the zokors, Myospalacinae, appear strongly nested within the hamsters, Cricetinae. Finally, we propose a sister group relationship between Malagasy Nesomyinae and south African Mystromyinae.

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