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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The complete mitochondrial genome of Rhea americana and early avian divergences.

The complete mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA, molecule of the greater rhea, Rhea americana, was sequenced. The size of the molecule is 16,710 nucleotides. The organization of the molecule conforms with that described for the chicken and the ostrich. It has been shown previously that relative to other vertebrates the NADH3 gene of the ostrich has an insertion of one nucleotide in position 174 of the gene. The same observation was made in the rhea and in the newly sequenced NADH3 gene of the emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae. Comparison with the NADH3 gene of the chicken and the rook suggests that the inserted nucleotide may be deleted by RNA editing. The divergence between the two struthioniform species, the ostrich and the rhea, was molecularly dated at approximately 51 million years before present, MYBP. This dating is more recent than commonly acknowledged. Phylogenetic analysis of the complete cytochrome b genes of seven avian orders placed the Passeriformes basal in the avian tree with the Struthioniformes among the remaining Neognathae. These findings challenge the commonly accepted notion that the most basal avian divergence is that between the Palaeognathae and Neognathae.[1]


  1. The complete mitochondrial genome of Rhea americana and early avian divergences. Härlid, A., Janke, A., Arnason, U. J. Mol. Evol. (1998) [Pubmed]
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