Long-term Sabbatical

Current view of rodent phylogenetic relationships

PI(s): Dorothee Huchon (Tel-Aviv University)
Start Date: 1-Sep-2010
End Date: 31-Aug-2011

Rodents are the most diverse mammalian order and are important model organisms in various field of biology such as genetics, genomics, and ecology. In spite of a large and well documented fossil record, rodent relationships have been highly debated. In 1985, Lucket and Hartenberger synthesized the paleontological and morphological knowledge in their book entitled �Evolutionary relationships among rodents: a multidisciplinary analysis�. In this book, data in favor of the monophyly of Glires (the group including Rodentia and Lagomorpha) are provided. The data analysis further supports the monophyly of the suborder Hystricognathi. However, evolutionary relationships among Scuirognath families could not be resolved. Early molecular studies complicated our view of rodent relationships suggesting that mouse and guinea-pig belong to different mammalian lineages. After intense debate concerning rodent monophyly and their position among mammals, recent molecular data based on sequence analysis and retroposon elements have converged toward a well supported phylogenetic tree. This tree supports the monophyly of Glires and divides rodents in three lineages: the squirrel-related clade, the mouse-related clade and the Hystricognathi. No recent book has synthesized the novel molecular data and discusses their agreement with the paleontological data. The aim of this sabbatical will be to write a book, which will synthesize the current knowledge concerning rodent evolution.

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