Phylogenetic analysis of diprotodontian marsupials based on complete mitochondrial genomes

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Australidelphia is the cohort, originally named by Szalay, of all Australian marsupials and the South American Dromiciops. A lot of mitochondria and nuclear genome studies support the hypothesis of a monophyly of Australidelphia, but some familial relationships in Australidelphia are still unclear. In particular, the familial relationships among the order Diprotodontia (koala, wombat, kangaroos and possums) are ambiguous. These Diprotodontian families are largely grouped into two suborders, Vombatiformes, which contains Phascolarctidae (koala) and Vombatidae (wombat), and Phalangerida, which contains Macropodidae, Potoroidae, Phalangeridae, Petauridae, Pseudocheiridae, Acrobatidae, Tarsipedidae and Burramyidae. Morphological evidence and some molecular analyses strongly support monophyly of the two families in Vombatiformes. The monophyly of Phalangerida as well as the phylogenetic relationships of families in Phalangerida remains uncertain, however, despite searches for morphological synapomorphy and mitochondrial DNA sequence analyses. Moreover, phylogenetic relationships among possum families (Phalangeridae, Petauridae, Pseudocheiridae, Acrobatidae, Tarsipedidae and Burramyidae) as well as a sister group of Macropodoidea (Macropodidae and Potoroidae) remain unclear. To evaluate familial relationships among Dromiciops and Australian marsupials as well as the familial relationships in Diprotodontia, we determined the complete mitochondrial sequence of six Diprotodontian species. We used Maximum Likelihood analyses with concatenated amino acid and codon sequences of 12 mitochondrial protein genomes. Our analysis of mitochondria amino acid sequence supports monophyly of Australian marsupials + Dromiciops and monophyly of Phalangerida. The close relatedness between Macropodidae and Phalangeridae is also weakly supported by our analysis.

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Genes and Genetic Systems

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