The complete mitochondrial genomes of the whistling duck (Dendrocygna javanica) and black swan (Cygnus atratus): dating evolutionary divergence in Galloanserae


Galloanserae is an ancient and diverse avian group, for which comprehensive molecular evidence relevant to phylogenetic analysis in the context of molecular chronology is lacking. In this study, we present two additional mitochondrial genome sequences of Galloanserae (the whistling duck, Dendrocygna javanica, and the black swan, Cygnus atratus) to broaden the scope of molecular phylogenetic reconstruction. The lengths of the whistling duck’s and black swan’s mitochondrial genomes are 16,753 and 16,748 bases, respectively. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that Dendrocygna is more likely to be in a basal position of the branch consisting of Anatinae and Anserinae, an affiliation that does not conform to its traditional classification. Bayesian approaches were employed to provide a rough timescale for Galloanserae evolution. In general, a narrow range of 95% confidence intervals gave younger estimates than those based on limited genes and estimated that at least two lineages originated before the Coniacian epoch around 90 MYA, well before the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. In addition, these results, which were compatible with estimates from fossil evidence, also imply that the origin of numerous genera in Anseriformes took place in the late Oligocene to early Miocene. Taken together, the results presented here provide a working framework for future research on Galloanserae evolution, and they underline the utility of whole mitochondrial genome sequences for the resolution of deep divergence.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


ATP6, and 8:

ATPase subunits 6 and 8


Base pair(s)


Cytochrome c oxidase subunits IIII


Cytochrome b


Mitochondrial DNA

ND1-6, and 4L:

NADH dehydrogenase subunits 1–6 and 4L


Ribosomal RNA


Transfer RNA


Luria–Bertani (medium)




Million years ago


Values of relative synonymous codon usage


Isopropyl β-d-thiogalactopyranoside


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We gratefully express our thanks to Sergio L. Pereira for his kind help on molecular dating analyses. We also thank Mengjie Qiu and Jennifer Li for DNA sequencing, Jianfeng Ren and Xin Shen for useful discussion and Matt Phillips for help with phylogenetic analyses.

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Correspondence to Bin Liu.

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Feng Jiang and Yongwang Miao contributed equally to this work.

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Jiang, F., Miao, Y., Liang, W. et al. The complete mitochondrial genomes of the whistling duck (Dendrocygna javanica) and black swan (Cygnus atratus): dating evolutionary divergence in Galloanserae. Mol Biol Rep 37, 3001–3015 (2010).

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  • Mitochondrial genome
  • Phylogenomics
  • Divergence estimation
  • Galloanserae