SREL Reprint #2632




Studies on the molecular evolution of the crocodylia: footprints in the sands of time

Herbert C. Dessauer1, Travis C. Glenn2,3, and Llewellyn D. Densmore4

1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center,
New Orleans, Louisiana 70119
2Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Aiken, South Carolina 29802
3Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208
4Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409-3131

Abstract: A reasonably large number of studies focusing on the molecular evolution of crocodilians have been completed during the past 100 years. Proteins were initially studied before DNA was known to carry the genetic information of cells and organisms, and were subsequently studied to infer changes at the DNA level. More recently, studies on the DNA itself have been completed. We have had the pleasure of taking part in or facilitating many studies conducted over the past 50 years, especially several of the earliest studies done using newly developed molecular techniques. We provide a review of the molecular genetic studies on crocodilians, summarizing the findings of these studies as well as the context in which they were undertaken. This review is a personal look at the history of molecular studies on the evolutionary biology of crocodilians. Our excuse for this focus is that our professors, our students and we have had the opportunity to be among the first to apply many new techniques to studies of crocodilians since 1950, when one of us (HCD) was a graduate student of Roland Coulson and Tom Hernandez. Although we will review much of the material in this subject area, we do not claim that it is complete. Instead, we focus our presentation on work in which we have participated or with which we are particularly familiar. We especially focus on materials relevant to the research presented at the 2nd International Crocodilian DNA Workshop, 7-9 November, 2001, at the San Diego Zoo. Thus, the following review also stands as a tribute to our mentors, students, and colleagues.

SREL Reprint #2632

Dessauer, H. C., T. C. Glenn, and L. D. Densmore. 2002. Studies on the molecular evolution of the crocodylia: footprints in the sands of time. Journal of Experimental Zoology/Molecular Development & Evolution 294:302-311.

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