Accelerated evolution of land snails Mandarina in the oceanic Bonin Islands: Evidence from mitochondrial DNA sequences

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215 Citations (Scopus)


An endemic land snail genus Mandarina of the oceanic Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands shows exceptionally rapid evolution not only of morphological and ecological traits, but of DNA sequence. A phylogenetic relationship based on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences suggests that morphological differences equivalent to the differences between families were produced between Mandarina and its ancestor during the Pleistocene. The inferred phylogeny shows that species with similar morphologies and life habitats appeared repeatedly and independently in different lineages and islands at different times. Sequential adaptive radiations occurred in different islands of the Bonin Islands and species occupying arboreal, semiarboreal, and terrestrial habitat arose independently in each island. Because of a close relationship between shell morphology and life habitat, independent evolution of the same life habitat in different islands created species possessing the same shell morphology in different islands and lineages. This rapid evolution produced some incongruences between phylogenetic relationship and species taxonomy. Levels of sequence divergence of mtDNA among the species of Mandarina is extremely high. The maximum level of sequence divergence at 16S and 12S ribosomal RNA sequence within Mandarina are 18.7% and 17.7%, respectively, and this suggests that evolution of mtDNA of Mandarina is extremely rapid, more than 20 times faster than the standard rate in other animals. The present examination reveals that evolution of morphological and ecological traits occurs at extremely high rates in the time of adaptive radiation, especially in fragmented environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-471
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Apr
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive radiation
  • Bonin Islands
  • Island biology
  • Land snails
  • Mandarina
  • Molecular evolution
  • mtDNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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