Phylogenetic relationships of African Caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona): insights from mitochondrial rRNA gene sequences

Wilkinson, M., Loader, S.P., Gower, D.J., Sheps, J.A. and Cohen, B.L. (2003) Phylogenetic relationships of African Caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona): insights from mitochondrial rRNA gene sequences. African Journal of Herpetology, 52(2), pp. 83-92. (doi: 10.1080/21564574.2003.9635483)




Africa (excluding the Seychelles) has a diverse caecilian fauna, including the endemic family Scolecomorphidae and six endemic genera of the more cosmopolitan Caeciliidae. Previous molecular phylogenetic studies have not included any caecilians from the African mainland. Partial 12S and 16S mitochondrial gene sequences were obtained for two species of the endemic African Scolecomorphidae and five species and four genera of African Caeciliids, aligned against previously reported sequences for 16 caecilian species, and analysed using parsimony, maximum likelihood, Bayesian and distance methods. Results are in agreement with traditional taxonomy in providing support for the monophyly of the African Caeciliid genera Boulengerula and Schistometopum and for the Scolecomorphidae. They disagree in indicating that the Caeciliidae is paraphyletic with respect to the Scolecomorphidae. Although more data from morphology and/or molecules will be required to resolve details of the interrelationships of the African caecilian genera, the data provide strong support for at least two origins of caecilians in which the eye is reduced and covered with bone, and do not support the hypotheses that the caecilian assemblages of Africa, and of East and of West Africa are monophyletic.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cohen, Dr Bernard
Authors: Wilkinson, M., Loader, S.P., Gower, D.J., Sheps, J.A., and Cohen, B.L.
Subjects:Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
Journal Name:African Journal of Herpetology
Publisher:Herpetological Association of Africa
ISSN:Not available
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2003 Herpetological Association of Africa
First Published:First published in African Journal of Herpetology 52(2):83-92
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
95111Morphological and molecular systematics of caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona)Mark WilkinsonNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)GST/02/832SCHOOL OF LIFE SCIENCES