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The complete mitochondrial genomes of Tarsiger cyanurus and Phoenicurus auroreus: a phylogenetic analysis of Passeriformes

Huabin Zhang, Yuze Bai, Xuejia Shi, Linxia Sun, Zhengfei Wang, Xiaobing Wu
Genes & genomics 2018 v.40 no.2 pp. 151-165
Carduelis, Emberiza, Muscicapidae, Paridae, birds, genes, mitochondrial DNA, mitochondrial genome, monophyly, paraphyly, ribosomal RNA, transfer RNA
Passeriformes is the largest group within aves and the phylogenetic relationships between Passeriformes have caused major disagreement in ornithology. Particularly, the phylogenetic relationships between muscicapoidea and sylvioidea are complex, and their taxonomic boundaries have not been clearly defined. Our aim was to study the status of two bird species: Tarsiger cyanurus and Phoenicurus auroreus. Furthermore, we analyzed the phylogenetic relationships of Passeriformes. Complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences of both species were determined and the lengths were 16,803 (T. cyanurus) and 16,772 bp (P. auroreus), respectively. Thirteen protein-coding genes, 22 tRNA genes, two rRNA genes, and one control region were identified in these mtDNAs. The contents of A and T at the base compositions was significantly higher than the content of G and C, and this AT skew was positive, while the GC skew was negative. The monophyly of Passeriformes is divided into four major clades: Corvoidea, Sylvioidea, Passeroidea, and Musicicapoidea. Paridae should be separated from the superfamily Sylvioidea and placed within the superfamily Muscicapoidea. The family Muscicapidae and Corvida were paraphyly, while Carduelis and Emberiza were grouped as a sister taxon. The relationships between some species of the order passeriformes may remain difficult to resolve despite an effort to collect additional characters for phylogenetic analysis. Current research of avian phylogeny should focus on adding characters and taxa and use both effectively to obtain a better resolution for deeper and shallow nodes.