, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 282-289

The giant panda is closer to a bear, judged by α- and β-hemoglobin sequences

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Using α- and β-hemoglobin sequences, we made a maximum likelihood inference as to the phylogenetic relationship among carnivores, including the two pandas, giant and lesser. Molecular phylogenetic studies up to 1985 had consistently indicated that the giant panda is more closely related to the bear than to the lesser panda. In 1986, however, a contradictory tree was constructed, using hemoglobins and so on, in which the two pandas link together (Tagle et al. 1986). In contrast to that tree, our conclusion supports the close relationship between bear and giant panda. The surface impression of a close relationship between the two pandas drawn from pairwise amino acid differences is explained by a rapid rate of hemoglobin evolution in the bear compared to that in the two pandas.

Offprint requests to: T. Hashimoto