Phylogenetic relationships of geckos of the genus Nactus and their relatives (Squamata: Gekkonidae)

Todd R. Jackman, Aaron M. Bauer, Eli Greenbaum


We employed nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequence data to investigate relationships within the gekkonid genus Nactus and between Nactus and other gekkonid genera. Nuclear (RAG-1, PDC) and mitochondrial (ND2) data provide strong support for conflicting patterns of relationship among bisexual New Guinean species of Nactus and the unisexual oceanic form N. pelagicus. This may be explained by an ancient mitochondrial introgression event between N. sphaerodactylodes and N. vankampeni, a recent selective sweep of mitochondrial DNA throughout N. vankampeni, and gene conflict stemming from the hybrid event that gave rise to N. pelagicus. Strong support from all data partitions is obtained for the sister group relationship of Nactus to a clade consisting of the Australian Heteronotia and the Southeast Asian Dixonius. Putative synapomorphies of the Nactus/Heteronotia/Dixonius clade include the reduction of the second phalanx of digit IV of the manus and the presence of regular rows of keeled (sometimes multicarinate) dorsal tubercles on the dorsum. Nactus and Heteronotia both include parthenogenetic species formed via hybridogenesis. This is rare among geckos, and vertebrates in general, and at some level may also be synapomorphic. Dixonius is not known to have any all-female species, but “D. siamensis” consists of multiple chromosome “races” that mirror morphologically cryptic, but karyotypically distinct, species in the other two genera. The strong support for the Nactus/Heteronotia/Dixonius clade demonstrates that the leaf-toed digital morphology of Dixonius has evolved multiple times within the Gekkonidae and suggests that superficial digital morphology may be misleading with respect to gekkonid suprageneric relationships.

Full Text:



  Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY- 4.0)

Firenze University Press
Via Cittadella, 7 - 50144 Firenze
Tel. (0039) 055 2757700 Fax (0039) 055 2757712