What We’re Reading: June 19, 2015

Congrats to SNPits bloggers Anna and Emily on their recent publications!

Mitogenome of a Legless Lizard
What on earth are pygopogidae? Well, they’re a curious group of legless lizards known as worm-lizards, which pretty much describes what they look like. They’re only found in the Australo-Papuan region and we know that they are closely related to geckos, but their exact relationship to the different groups of geckos is a bit of a mystery. Mitochondrial DNA sequences are pretty useful markers for phylogenetic studies and there are now whole mitochondrial genome sequences available from a lot of different reptile groups… but not from the pygopodidae… or at least until now!

Phylogeography of the American Black Bear
A previous phylogeographic study of American black bears (Ursus americanus) was published in 1997, so why do a new one? That one used mitochondrial haplotypes and this new study uses SNPs spanning the nuclear genome, thereby giving the most detailed picture to date about diversity in the species. Similarly to the mitochondrial study, eastern and western groups were observed; however, in the nuclear genome there was a third group of bears that diverged in modern day Alaska during the last glacial maximum. While Alaska may be geographicly close to western North America, the bears are genetically closer to bears in eastern North America! Alaska gets all of the fun bear (black, brown, and polar) stories!

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