Molecular phylogeny of New World Myotis (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae) inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA genes.Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2007 Apr; 43(1):32-48.MP
Recent studies have shown that species in the genus Myotis have evolved a number of convergent morphological traits, many of which are more related to their mode of food procurement than to their phylogeny. Surprisingly, the biogeographic origins of these species are a much better predictor of phylogenetic relationships, than their morphology. In particular, a monophyletic clade that includes all New World species was apparent, but only a third of the 38 species have been analysed. In order to better understand the evolution of this clade, we present phylogenetic reconstructions of 17 Nearctic and 13 Neotropical species of Myotis compared to a number of Old World congeners. These reconstructions are based on mitochondrial cytochrome b (1140 bp), and nuclear Rag 2 genes (1148 bp). Monophyly of the New World clade is strongly supported in all analyses. Two Palaearctic sister species, one from the west (M. brandtii) and one from the east (M. gracilis), are embedded within the New World clade, suggesting that they either moved across the Bering Strait, or that they descended from the same ancestor that reached the New World. An emerging feature of these phylogenetic reconstructions is that limited faunal exchanges have occurred, including between the North and South American continents, further emphasizing the importance of biogeography in the radiation of Myotis. A fossil-calibrated, relaxed molecular-clock model was used to estimate the divergence time of New World lineages to 12.2+/-2.0 MYA. Early diversification of New World Myotis coincides with the sharp global cooling of the Middle Miocene. Radiation of the temperate-adapted Myotis may have been triggered by these climatic changes. The relative paucity of species currently found in South America might result from a combination of factors including the early presence of competitors better adapted to tropical habitats.