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Mitogenome of the extinct Desert ‘rat-kangaroo’ times the adaptation to aridity in macropodoids

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posted on 09.05.2022, 06:58 authored by Michael WestermanMichael Westerman, S Loke, MH Tan, BP Kear
The evolution of Australia’s distinctive marsupial fauna has long been linked to the onset of continent-wide aridity. However, how this profound climate change event affected the diversification of extant lineages is still hotly debated. Here, we assemble a DNA sequence dataset of Macropodoidea—the clade comprising kangaroos and their relatives—that incorporates a complete mitogenome for the Desert ‘rat-kangaroo’, Caloprymnus campestris. This enigmatic species went extinct nearly 90 years ago and is known from a handful of museum specimens. Caloprymnus is significant because it was the only macropodoid restricted to extreme desert environments, and therefore calibrates the group’s specialisation for increasingly arid conditions. Our robustly supported phylogenies nest Caloprymnus amongst the bettongs Aepyprymnus and Bettongia. Dated ancestral range estimations further reveal that the Caloprymnus-Bettongia lineage originated in nascent xeric settings during the middle to late Miocene, ~ 12 million years ago (Ma), but subsequently radiated into fragmenting mesic habitats after the Pliocene to mid-Pleistocene. This timeframe parallels the ancestral divergences of kangaroos in woodlands and forests, but predates their adaptive dispersal into proliferating dry shrublands and grasslands from the late Miocene to mid-Pleistocene, after ~ 7 Ma. We thus demonstrate that protracted changes in both climate and vegetation likely staged the emergence of modern arid zone macropodoids.

Funding

Open access funding provided by Uppsala University. Aspects of this work were supported by a Swedish Research Council Young Researcher grant (2011-3637), and a Swedish Research Council Project grant (2020-3423) to B.P.K.

History

Publication Date

01/12/2022

Journal

Scientific Reports

Volume

12

Issue

1

Article Number

ARTN 5829

Pagination

10p.

Publisher

Springer Nature

ISSN

2045-2322

Rights Statement

© The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.