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BMC Genomics  2008 

Evolution of the mitochondrial genome in snakes: Gene rearrangements and phylogenetic relationships

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-9-569

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Abstract:

The mitochondrial genomes were sequenced for four taxa representing four different families, and each had a different gene arrangement. Comparative analyses with other snake mitochondrial genomes allowed us to summarize six types of mitochondrial gene arrangement in snakes. Phylogenetic reconstruction with commonly used methods of phylogenetic inference (BI, ML, MP, NJ) arrived at a similar topology, which was used to reconstruct the evolution of mitochondrial gene arrangements in snakes.The phylogenetic relationships among the major families of snakes are in accordance with the mitochondrial genomes in terms of gene arrangements. The gene arrangement in Ramphotyphlops braminus mtDNA is inferred to be ancestral for snakes. After the divergence of the early Ramphotyphlops lineage, three types of rearrangements occurred. These changes involve translocations within the IQM tRNA gene cluster and the duplication of the CR. All phylogenetic methods support the placement of Enhydris plumbea outside of the (Colubridae + Elapidae) cluster, providing mitochondrial genomic evidence for the familial rank of Homalopsidae.Snakes are a large group of reptiles with a broad range of morphological features, of which many are evolutionarily selected by their habitats. Snakes have conventionally been divided into two groups. The fossorial scolecophidians (blindsnakes and threadsnakes) are small snakes with a small gape size that feed on small prey on a frequent basis. The second major group, the alethinophidians (or "true snakes") are more ecologically diverse and most species feed on relatively large prey on an infrequent basis. True snakes are further split into the Henophidia and the Caenophidia. The caenophidians, which are also called advanced snakes, include the aquatic genus Acrochordus and the Colubroidea. The Colubroidea is subdivided into the families Atractaspididae, Elapidae, Viperidae, and Colubridae. A small colubrid subfamily, Homalopsinae, was first attributed familial

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