Mitochondrial DNA sequences of the Afro-Arabian spiny-tailed lizards (genus Uromastyx; family Agamidae): phylogenetic analyses and evolution of gene arrangements
Approximately 1.7 kbp of mitochondrial DNA were sequenced from 29 individuals assignable to 11 Uromastyx species or subspecies and two other agamids. U. ocellata and U. ornata had an insertion between the glutamine and isoleucine tRNA genes, which could be folded into a stable stem-and-loop structure, and the insertion for U. ornata additionally retained a sequence similar to the glutamine tRNA gene. This corroborates the role of tandem duplication in reshaping mitochondrial gene arrangements, and supports the idea that the origin of light-strand replication could be relocated within mitochondrial genomes. Molecular phylogeny from different tree-building methods consistently placed African and Arabian taxa in mutually monophyletic groups, excluding U. hardwickii inhabiting India and Pakistan. Unlike previous studies based on morphology, U. macfadyeni did not cluster with morphologically similar Arabian taxa, suggesting convergent evolution to be responsible for the morphological similarities. Divergence times estimated among the Uromastyx taxa, together with geological and palaeontological evidence, suggest that the Uromastyx agamids originated from Central Asia during the Eocene and colonized Africa after its connection with Eurasia in the early Miocene. Their radiation may have been facilitated by repeated aridification of North Africa since the middle Miocene, and geological events such as the expansion of the Red Sea and the East African Rift Valley. © 2005 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2005, 85, 247–260.
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