Shen, Y.Y., Liang, L., Sun, Y.B., Yue, B.S., Yang, X.J., Murphy, R.W., and Zhang, Y.P. BMC Evolutionary Biology 2010 10:132.
The Galliformes, a well-known and widely distributed Order in Aves, contains about 70 genera and more than 250 species including the domestic chicken (Gallus gallus), green peacock (Pavo muticus) and turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), among others. Many galliforms have beautiful ornamentations and they play an important role in hunting and entertainment. Regardless, these birds are best known for their importance in agriculture and as model organisms in scientific studies.
Due to their importance for human, their phylogenetic relationships have long been the focus of research. However, previous studies failed to obtain a consistent result and added more fuel to an already heated debate.
Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ) academician Ya-ping Zhang and his graduate student Yong-Yi Shen, cooperated with Xiao-Jun Yang (KIZ), and Professor Bi-Song Yue (Sichuan University) examined the complete mitochondrial (mt) genomes from 34 galliform species and obtained a single, robust tree. Their result solved the phylogenetic positions of all 34 species, and suggested that the traditional hypothesis of pheasants, partridges, peafowls and tragopans was not monophyletic. The robust tree reveals that the evolution of morphological (sexual dimorphism) and behavioral (flight, and polygamy) evolution in Galliformes is very complex. And their result can also provide primary genetic data for these future studies.
The finding was published online at May 6 in BMC Evolutionary Biology (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/10/132)