Higher-level systematics of rodents and divergence time estimates based on two congruent nuclear genes

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2003 Mar;26(3):409-20. doi: 10.1016/s1055-7903(02)00304-4.


Phylogenetic analysis of over 4600 aligned nucleotide sequences from two nuclear genes, growth hormone receptor and BRCA1, provided congruent phylogenies depicting relationships among the major lineages of rodents. Separate and combined analyses resulted in five major conclusions: (1) strong support for a monophyletic Myodonta (containing the superfamilies Muroidea + Dipodoidea), with subfamily Gerbillinae being more closely related to Murinae than is Sigmodontinae; (2) a sister-group relationship between the family Castoridae and the superfamily Geomyoidea; (3) monophyly of Ctenohystrica (containing the suborders Sciuravida and Hystricognatha); (4) a near polytomy among Myodonta (suborder Myomorpha), Pedetes (family Pedetidae, suborder Anomaluromorpha), Castoridae (suborder Sciuromorpha) + Geomyoidea (suborder Myomorpha), and Ctenohystrica; and (5) basal position of a monophyletic group containing Graphiurus (family Gliridae, suborder Myomorpha) + two members of the Sciuromorpha (Sciuridae + Aplodontidae). Divergence dates among rodents and primates were also estimated using the combined data. Applying a global molecular clock and a primate calibration point, divergence dates among rodents exceeded fossil-based dates but were generally compatible with other molecule-based dates estimated under similar conditions. However, when a relaxed molecular clock was applied, estimated divergence dates were highly compatible with the fossil record.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • Receptors, Somatotropin / genetics
  • Rodentia / classification*
  • Rodentia / genetics*


  • Receptors, Somatotropin