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mtDNA-based phylogeny of sunbirds (Passeriformes: Nectariniidae) found in Sri Lanka

Authors:

C. D. Wickramasinghe,

University of Peradeniya, LK
About C. D.
Department of Basic Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
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M. M. Samaraweera,

University of Peradeniya, LK
About M.
Department of Basic Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
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N. Jayasena,

University of Peradeniya, LK
About N.
Department of Basic Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
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L. G. S. Lokugalappatti

University of Peradeniya, LK
About L. G. S.
Department of Basic Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
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Abstract

Sunbirds are small Passerines in Family Nectariniidae that generally live in the Old World. The evolutionary relationships among most of the sunbird species of this Family are yet to be understood. Sri Lanka is home to three species of sunbirds: Loten’s Sunbird (Cinnyris lotenius), Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus), and Purple-rumped Sunbird (Leptocoma zeylonica), but no phylogenetic hypothesis exists for them. Therefore, the objective of this study was to explore the molecular phylogenetic relationships of Sri Lankan sunbird species within the Family Nectariniidae using partial mitochondrial ATPase subunit 6 (ATPase 6) and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 3 (ND3) gene sequences. Our data set included the three sunbird species in Sri Lanka from Mannar and Bundala, and 29 reference sequences of sunbirds from Asia, Indian Ocean islands, and Africa obtained from National Centre for Biotechnology Information. Phylogenetic trees were constructed using Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian Inference. The resulting trees exhibited 100% congruent topologies. In the phylogeny, C. asiaticus showed a sister-group relationship with C. lotenius, and was the most recently speciated sunbird in Sri Lanka. Species of genus Leptocoma including Purple-rumped sunbird formed a reciprocally monophyletic clade. Our findings revealed that L. zeylonica was evolutionarily the oldest sunbird found in Sri Lanka. Even though the precise region of sunbird origin is unresolved, the resulted phylogenetic tree suggests an Indo-Malayan origin. Further, our results reaffirmed the polyphyly of genera Cinnyris and Anthreptes. We believe that our findings will generate novel research approaches on evolution of avifauna in Sri Lanka.

How to Cite: Wickramasinghe, C. D., M. Samaraweera, M., Jayasena, N., & Lokugalappatti, L. G. S. (2022). mtDNA-based phylogeny of sunbirds (Passeriformes: Nectariniidae) found in Sri Lanka. Ceylon Journal of Science, 51(5), 495–500. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/cjs.v51i5.8075
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Published on 31 Dec 2022.
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