Molecular systematics of marsupials based on the rRNA 12S mitochondrial gene: the phylogeny of didelphimorphia and of the living fossil microbiotheriid Dromiciops gliroides thomas

R E Palma, A E Spotorno
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 1999, 13 (3): 525-35
Nucleotide sequence data from the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene were used to evaluate the phylogenetic relationships among the major groups of didelphimorph and paucituberculatan marsupials from South America, the microbiotheriid Dromiciops gliroides, and representatives of four orders of Australasian marsupials. Based on approximately 800 bp in 18 genera, we conclude that the didelphids constitute a monophyletic group with large-sized forms differentiated from small opossums, while Caluromys constitutes the sister taxon to didelphids. The peramelid Isoodon was recovered as the sister taxon to the paucituberculatans Caenolestes and Rhyncholestes, although it is in an uncertain phylogenetic position within the marsupial tree. Dromiciops was recovered as a well-differentiated lineage from South American opossums within the Australidelphian radiation of metatherians that include dasyurid, diprotodontian, and notoryctemorph marsupials.

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