New insights to the molecular phylogenetics and generic assessment in the Rhacophoridae (Amphibia: Anura) based on five nuclear and three mitochondrial genes, with comments on the evolution of reproduction.
The phylogenetic relationships among 12 genera of treefrogs (Family, Rhacophoridae), were investigated based on a large sequence data set, including five nuclear (brain-derived neurotrophic factor, proopiomelanocortin, recombination activating gene 1, tyrosinase, rhodopsin) and three mitochondrial (partial 12S and 16S ribosomal RNA and the complete valine t-RNA) genes. Phylogenetic analysis of the nuclear gene sequences resolved three major clades. The first group included Philautus, Pseudophilautus, Kurixalus, Gracixalus, and Theloderma moloch; Pseudophilautus and Kurixalus were sister taxa. The second group consisted of Nyctixalus and Theloderma. The third group contained Feihyla, Polypedates, Rhacophorus, and Chiromantis vittatus; Polypedates and Feihyla were sister taxa. Analyses of the nuclear and mitochondrial genes supported the following results: (1) Genus Liuixalus formed the sister group of all other rhacophorines. (2) Philautus, Theloderma, and Chiromantis were not resolved as monophyletic genera. Four groups, including Philautus ocellatus and P. hainanus, P. longchuanensis and P. gryllus, P. banaensis, and P. quyeti nested well within the genera Liuixalus, Pseudophilautus, Kurixalus, and Gracixalus, respectively. (3) Theloderma moloch and Chiromantis vittatus did not cluster with other species of Theloderma and Chiromantis, respectively. Foam nesting evolved only once, as did laying eggs in a jelly-like matrix containing some bubbles. Terrestrial direct development evolved twice in the Rhacophoridae.