Phylogeny of water birds inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences of nine protein coding genes

Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Subject Areas
Biodiversity, Evolutionary Studies, Genetics, Genomics, Zoology
Phylogeny, mitogenomics, Threskiornithidae, water birds, Ardeidae, mitochondrial DNA
© 2014 Lkhagvajav Treutlein et al.
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Cite this article
Lkhagvajav Treutlein T, Gonzalez J, Wink M. 2014. Phylogeny of water birds inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences of nine protein coding genes. PeerJ PrePrints 2:e272v1


Background: The phylogeny of birds which are adapted to aquatic environments is controversial because of convergent evolution. Methods: To understand water bird evolution in more detail, we sequenced the majority of mitochondrial protein coding genes (6699 nucleotides in length) of 14 water birds, and reconstructed their phylogeny in the context of other taxa across the whole class of birds for which complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences were available. Results: The water bird clade, as defined by Hackett et al. (2008) based on nuclear DNA (ncDNA) sequences, was also found in our study by Bayesian Inference (BI) and Maximum Likelihood (ML) analyses. In both reconstruction methods, genera belonging to the same family generally clustered together with moderate to high statistical support. Above the family level, we identified three monophyletic groups: one clade consisting of Procellariidae, Hydrobatidae and Diomedeidae, and a second clade consisting of Sulidae, Anhingidae and Phalacrocoracidae, and a third clade consisting of Ardeidae and Threskiornithidae. Discussion: Based on our mtDNA sequence data, we recovered a robust direct sister relationship between Ardeidae and Threskiornithidae for the first time for mtDNA. Our comprehensive phylogenetic reconstructions contribute to the knowledge of higher level relationships within the water birds and provide evolutionary hypotheses for further studies.

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Supplemental Information

Supplemental Information 1

DOI: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.272v1/supp-1