Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 3–29 | Cite as

Relationships among didelphid marsupials based on sequence variation in the mitochondrial cytochrome B gene

  • James L. Patton
  • Sergio F. dos Reis
  • Maria Nazareth F. da Silva


Variation in the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (nucleotide and amino acid sequences) is evaluated for 9 genera and 15 species of American opossums in the family Didelphidae, using the American caenolestid rat opossumLestoros and the New Guinean peroryctid bandicootEchimypera as outgroups. Phylogenetic analyses (parsimony and distance) strongly support the monophyly of the Didelphidae and delineate two major clades; (1)Didelphis andPhilander are strongly aligned sister taxa, withMetachirus weakly but consistently associated with them, and (2)Marmosa plusMicoureus, withMonodelphis falling outside that pair. The generaMarmosops, Caluromys, andGlironia exhibit varied relationships, depending upon the method of analysis and data (DNA or amino acid sequences) used, but generally are placed individually or in combinations near or at the base of the didelphid radiation. Some aspects of these relationships are consistent with current taxonomic views, but others are in marked contrast. Specifically, a clade comprised of the mouse opossumsMarmosa, Micoureus, andMarmosops is strongly rejected by log-likelihood analysis, contrary to expectations from some current classifications. Also, the woolly opossumsCaluromys andGlironia also do not form a sister-taxon relationship, as suggested by their placement in a subfamily separate from the remaining didelphids examined. However, such a relationship cannot be rejected from log-likelihood analyses. The relationships suggested fromcyt-b sequences are strongly concordant with those based on DNA-DNA hybridization analyses. In addition to systematic and phylogenetic properties, molecular evolution of the didelphid cytochrome b gene sequence is characterized according to nucleotide bias and rate differentials at each codon position and across the entire sequence.

Key Words

marsupials Didelphidac mtDNA sequences cytochrome b phylogeny evolutionary rate 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • James L. Patton
    • 1
  • Sergio F. dos Reis
    • 2
  • Maria Nazareth F. da Silva
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Museum of Vertebrate ZoologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley
  2. 2.Departamento de ParasitologiaUniversidade Estadual de CampinasSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de EcologiaInstituto Nacional de Pesquisas da AmazôniaManausBrazil

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