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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A comparative analysis of Y chromosome and mtDNA phylogenies of the Hylobates gibbons

Yi-Chiao Chan1*, Christian Roos2, Miho Inoue-Murayama3, Eiji Inoue4, Chih-Chin Shih5 and Linda Vigilant1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Primatology, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig, 04103, Germany

2 Gene Bank of Primates and Primate Genetics Laboratory, German Primate Center, Kellnerweg 4, Göttingen, 37077, Germany

3 Wildlife Research Center, Kyoto University, 2–24 Tanaka-Sekiden-cho Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-820, Japan

4 Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa Oiwake-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8502, Japan

5 Animal Division, Taipei Zoo, No.30 Sec.2 Xinguang Rd, Taipei City, 11656, Taiwan

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2012, 12:150  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-12-150

Published: 21 August 2012

Abstract

Background

The evolutionary relationships of closely related species have long been of interest to biologists since these species experienced different evolutionary processes in a relatively short period of time. Comparison of phylogenies inferred from DNA sequences with differing inheritance patterns, such as mitochondrial, autosomal, and X and Y chromosomal loci, can provide more comprehensive inferences of the evolutionary histories of species. Gibbons, especially the genus Hylobates, are particularly intriguing as they consist of multiple closely related species which emerged rapidly and live in close geographic proximity. Our current understanding of relationships among Hylobates species is largely based on data from the maternally-inherited mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs).

Results

To infer the paternal histories of gibbon taxa, we sequenced multiple Y chromosomal loci from 26 gibbons representing 10 species. As expected, we find levels of sequence variation some five times lower than observed for the mitochondrial genome (mtgenome). Although our Y chromosome phylogenetic tree shows relatively low resolution compared to the mtgenome tree, our results are consistent with the monophyly of gibbon genera suggested by the mtgenome tree. In a comparison of the molecular dating of divergences and on the branching patterns of phylogeny trees between mtgenome and Y chromosome data, we found: 1) the inferred divergence estimates were more recent for the Y chromosome than for the mtgenome, 2) the species H. lar and H. pileatus are monophyletic in the mtgenome phylogeny, respectively, but a H. pileatus individual falls into the H. lar Y chromosome clade.

Conclusions

Based on the ~6.4 kb of Y chromosomal DNA sequence data generated for each of the 26 individuals in this study, we provide molecular inferences on gibbon and particularly on Hylobates evolution complementary to those from mtDNA data. Overall, our results illustrate the utility of comparative studies of loci with different inheritance patterns for investigating potential sex specific processes on the evolutionary histories of closely related taxa, and emphasize the need for further sampling of gibbons of known provenance.

Keywords:
Y chromosome phylogeny; Phylogenetic relationships; Divergence times; Mitochondrial genome; Gene flow