Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 505–513 | Cite as

Complete mitochondrial genomes render the Night Heron genus Gorsachius non-monophyletic

  • Xiaoping Zhou
  • Chengte Yao
  • Qingxian Lin
  • Wenzhen Fang
  • Xiaolin Chen
Original Article


In the present study, the complete mitochondrial genomes of three Night Herons from the genus Gorsachius were sequenced. All the complete mitochondrial genomes in this genus exhibit duplications in the region between cytochrome b and 12S ribosomal RNA. In Gorsachius magnificus, the duplicated regions span from the last 108 base pairs of cytochrome b to the control region, which are nearly identical to each other in nucleotide sequences, suggesting they are evolving in concert. In G. goisagi and G. melanolophus, the duplicated control regions were nearly identical in majority portions within each individual, while the first tRNA Pro -ND6-tRNA Glu and the second Cytb-tRNA Thr regions have degenerated into non-coding regions. Phylogenetic analyses with Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood based on the nucleotide sequences of two ribosomal RNA genes and 12 protein coding genes indicate that G. magnificus is not monophyletic with the other two Gorsachius species. These new results provide the fundamental basis for further studies to elucidate their phylogenetic positions and relationships with other genera within the subfamily Ardeinae.


Mitochondrial genome Phylogenetic relationship Gorsachius Night Heron Ardeinae 


Vollständiges mitochondriales Genom ergibt Nicht-Monophylie der Nachtreiher-Gattung Gorsachius In der vorliegenden Studie wurde das vollständige mitochondriale Genom von drei Nachtreiherarten der Gattung Gorsachius sequenziert. Alle mitochondrialen Genome dieser Gattung wiesen Duplikationen in der Region zwischen Cytochrome b und 12S der ribosomalen RNA auf. Bei G. magnificus umfassten die duplizierten Regionen die letzten 108 Basenpaare von Cytochrome b bis zur Kontrollregion, die nahezu identisch sind in ihren Nukleotidsequenzen. Dies deutet auf eine gemeinsame Entwicklung hin. Bei G. goisagi und G. melanolophus waren die mehrheitlichen Anteile der duplizierten Kontrollregionen nahezu bei jedem Individuum identisch, während die ersten tRNAPro-ND6-tRNAGlu und die zweiten CytbtRNAThr Regionen zu nicht-kodierenden Regionen degeneriert waren. Phylogenetische Analysen mittels Bayes-Inferenz und Maximum Likelihood Schätzung, die auf den Nukleotidsequenzen zweier ribosomaler RNA Gene und 12 Protein kodierender Gene basierten, zeigten, dass G. magnificus nicht der gleichen Stammform entstammt wie die beiden anderen Gorsachius-Arten. Diese neuen Erkenntnisse liefern die fundamentale Basis für weitere Studien zur Aufklärung phylogenetischer Positionen und Verwandtschaftsverhältnisse mit anderen Gattungen innerhalb der Unterfamilie der Ardeinae.



We thank the Jiulingshan National Reserve in Jiangxi and the Endemic Species Research Institute in Taiwan, for help in providing the tissue samples for this study. This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 31000963, 41476113 and 31272333) and by the Fujian Natural Science Foundation of China (2010Y2007).

Supplementary material

10336_2015_1297_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (165 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 164 kb) Alignments of the duplicated CRs in Gorsachius. Dots indicate identity of nucleotides to the reference sequence, and dashes indicate gaps. Underlined nucleotides indicate the conserved motifs characteristic for the avian CR. The red and blue nucleotides indicate the sequences are more similar between G. goisagi and G. melanolophus orthologs than between paralogs within species. The gray-shaded nucleotides indicate the repeats.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Ministry of Education for Coast and Wetland Ecosystems, College of the Environment and EcologyXiamen UniversityXiamenChina
  2. 2.Endemic Species Research Institute, Council of AgricultureTaiwanChina

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