Evolutionary Shifts in Three Major Structural Features of the Mitochondrial Genome Among Iguanian Lizards
A phylogenetic tree for major lineages of iguanian lizards is estimated from 1,488 aligned base positions (858 informative) of newly reported mitochondrial DNA sequences representing coding regions for eight tRNAs, ND2, and portions of ND1 and COI. Two well-supported groups are defined, the Acrodonta and the Iguanidae (sensu lato). This phylogenetic hypothesis is used to investigate evolutionary shifts in mitochondrial gene order, origin for light-strand replication, and secondary structure of tRNACys. These three characters shift together on the branch leading to acrodont lizards. Plate tectonics and the fossil record indicate that these characters changed in the Jurassic. We propose that changes to the secondary structure of tRNACys may destroy function of the origin for light-strand replication which, in turn, may facilitate shifts in gene order.
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