Mitochondrial sequences as indicators of generic classification in bush babies

M. Delpero, J. C. Masters, D. Zuccon, P. Cervella, S. Crovella, G. Ardito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Systematic relationships among the African bush babies are not well understood. Various generic designations are currently in use. Some authors refer all species to a single genus (Galago), while others recognize ≤4 genera. Phylogenetic reconstructions based on morphology, karyology, allozymes and vocal repertoires have generated inconsistent hypotheses of relationship. We analyzed partial sequences of three mitochondrial genes (270 bp from cytochrome b, 387 bp from 12S rRNA, and 241 bp from 16S rRNA, total 898 bp) to resolve some uncertainties. We sampled taxa from each of three genera: Galagoides alleni, G. demidoff and G. zanzibaricus; Galago senegalensis, G. gallarum and G. moholi; and Otolemur crassicaudatus and O. garnettii. Outgroup taxa were Asian lorises: Nycticebus coucang and Loris tardigradus. We analyzed sequences separately and in combination, and modeled phylogenies using maximum parsimony, weighted parsimony, neighbor-joining and maximum-likelihood. We obtained some variation in phylogenetic inference depending on sequence and analytical method, but the results also gave strong phylogenetic signals. The lesser bush babies invariably formed a clade, showing evidence of very recent radiation. The greater bush babies also formed a clade, marked by somewhat greater inter-specific genetic distances, which was allied with Galagoides alleni in most instances. Galagoides demidoff and G. zanzibaricus are not closely related, though both diverged early in the history of the group. A genus comprising Galagoides alleni, G. demidoff and G. zanzibaricus is not supported by our data. The most likely alliance for Galagoides alleni is within the genus Otolemur. Of the three partial sequences employed in the Study, 16S rRNA gave the most consistent results, while cytochrome b was least informative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-904
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Bush baby
  • Galago
  • Mitochondrial genes
  • Phylogeny
  • Systematics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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