Sequencing of the complete mitochondrial genome of the common raven Corvus corax (Aves: Corvidae) confirms mitogenome-wide deep lineages and a paraphyletic relationship with the Chihuahuan raven C. cryptoleucus
Previous studies based on single mitochondrial markers have shown that the common raven (Corvus corax) consists of two highly diverged lineages that are hypothesised to have undergone speciation reversal upon secondary contact. Furthermore, common ravens are paraphyletic with respect to the Chihuahuan raven (C. cryptoleucus) based on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Here we explore the causes of mtDNA paraphyly by sequencing whole mitochondrial genomes of 12 common ravens from across the Northern Hemisphere, in addition to three Chihuahuan ravens and one closely related brown-necked raven (C. ruficollis) using a long-range PCR protocol. Our raven mitogenomes ranged between 16925–16928 bp in length. GC content varied from 43.3% to 43.8% and the 13 protein coding genes, two rRNAs and 22 tRNAs followed a standard avian mitochondrial arrangement. The overall divergence between the two common raven clades was 3% (range 0.3–5.8% in 16 regions including the protein coding genes, rRNAs and the control region). Phylogenies constructed from whole mitogenomes recovered the previously found mitochondrial sister relationship between the common raven California clade and the Chihuahuan raven (overall divergence 1.1%), which strengthens the hypothesis that mtDNA paraphyly in the common raven results from speciation reversal of previously distinct Holarctic and California lineages.
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