Mesozoic retroposons reveal parrots as the closest living relatives of passerine birds

Suh, Alexander ORCID:, Paus, Martin, Kiefmann, Martin, Churakov, Gennady, Franke, Franziska Anni, Brosius, Jürgen, Kriegs, Jan Ole and Schmitz, Jürgen (2011) Mesozoic retroposons reveal parrots as the closest living relatives of passerine birds. Nature Communications, 2 (1). ISSN 2041-1723

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The relationships of passerines (such as the well-studied zebra finch) with non-passerine birds is one of the great enigmas of avian phylogenetic research, because decades of extensive morphological and molecular studies yielded highly inconsistent results between and within data sets. Here we show the first application of the virtually homoplasy-free retroposon insertions to this controversy. Our study examined ∼200,000 retroposon-containing loci from various avian genomes and retrieved 51 markers resolving early bird phylogeny. Among these, we obtained statistically significant evidence that parrots are the closest and falcons the second-closest relatives of passerines, together constituting the Psittacopasserae and the Eufalconimorphae, respectively. Our new and robust phylogenetic framework has substantial implications for the interpretation of various conclusions drawn from passerines as model organisms. This includes insights of relevance to human neuroscience, as vocal learning (that is, birdsong) probably evolved in the psittacopasseran ancestor, >30 million years earlier than previously assumed.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: We thank Judith Brockhues for help with in vitro experiments and Werner Beckmann, Timm Spretke (Zoo Halle), Stephanie Hodges, Sharon Birks (Burke Museum), Sandra Silinski (Zoo Münster), Renate van den Elzen (Museum Koenig), Ommo Hüppop, Nils Anthes, Michael Wink, the LWL-DNA-und Gewebearchiv, Joes Custers, Holger Schielzeth, Gerald Mayr (Senckenberg Museum), Elisabeth Suh, Christoph Bleidorn and Andrew Fidler for providing feather, blood and tissue samples. Jón Baldur Hlí∂´berg provided the bird paintings and Marsha Bundman helped with editing. We thank Gerald Mayr for valuable comments. This research was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (KR3639 to J.O.K. and J.S.) and the Medizinische Fakultät der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster.
Uncontrolled Keywords: chemistry(all),biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology(all),physics and astronomy(all) ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1600
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2022 15:36
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2024 00:52
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1448

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