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New microRNA study supports turtles as sisters to archosaurs (free pdf)



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new paper that may be of interest:


Daniel J. Field, Jacques A. Gauthier, Benjamin L. King, Davide Pisani,
Tyler R. Lyson, and Kevin J. Peterson (2014)
Toward consilience in reptile phylogeny: miRNAs support an archosaur,
not lepidosaur, affinity for turtles.
Evolution & Development (advance online publication)
DOI: 10.1111/ede.12081
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ede.12081/abstract

free pdf:
http://danieljfield.com/Home/Publications.html

Understanding the phylogenetic position of crown turtles (Testudines)
among amniotes has been a source of particular contention. Recent
morphological analyses suggest that turtles are sister to all other
reptiles, whereas the vast majority of gene sequence analyses support
turtles as being inside Diapsida, and usually as sister to crown
Archosauria (birds and crocodilians). Previously, a study using miRNAs
(miRNAs) placed turtles inside diapsids, but as sister to lepidosaurs
(lizards and Sphenodon) rather than archosaurs. Here, we test this
hypothesis with an expanded miRNA presence/absence dataset, and employ
more rigorous criteria for miRNA annotation. Significantly, we find no
support for a turtle + lepidosaur sister-relationship; instead, we
recover strong support for turtles sharing a more recent common
ancestor with archosaurs. We further test this result by analyzing a
super-alignment of precursor miRNA sequences for every miRNA inferred
to have been present in the most recent common ancestor of tetrapods.
This analysis yields a topology that is fully congruent with our
presence/absence analysis; our results are therefore in accordance
with most gene sequence studies, providing strong, consilient
molecular evidence from diverse independent datasets regarding the
phylogenetic position of turtles.

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News releases:

http://news.yale.edu/2014/05/05/study-finds-turtles-are-closer-kin-birds-crocodiles-lizards-snakes

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-05/dc-ttt050514.php