Phylogenetic analyses of complete mitochondrial genome sequences suggest a basal divergence of the enigmatic rodent Anomalurus.
Horner DS., Lefkimmiatis K., Reyes A., Gissi C., Saccone C., Pesole G.
BACKGROUND: Phylogenetic relationships between Lagomorpha, Rodentia and Primates and their allies (Euarchontoglires) have long been debated. While it is now generally agreed that Rodentia constitutes a monophyletic sister-group of Lagomorpha and that this clade (Glires) is sister to Primates and Dermoptera, higher-level relationships within Rodentia remain contentious. RESULTS: We have sequenced and performed extensive evolutionary analyses on the mitochondrial genome of the scaly-tailed flying squirrel Anomalurus sp., an enigmatic rodent whose phylogenetic affinities have been obscure and extensively debated. Our phylogenetic analyses of the coding regions of available complete mitochondrial genome sequences from Euarchontoglires suggest that Anomalurus is a sister taxon to the Hystricognathi, and that this clade represents the most basal divergence among sampled Rodentia. Bayesian dating methods incorporating a relaxed molecular clock provide divergence-time estimates which are consistently in agreement with the fossil record and which indicate a rapid radiation within Glires around 60 million years ago. CONCLUSION: Taken together, the data presented provide a working hypothesis as to the phylogenetic placement of Anomalurus, underline the utility of mitochondrial sequences in the resolution of even relatively deep divergences and go some way to explaining the difficulty of conclusively resolving higher-level relationships within Glires with available data and methodologies.