European newts (genus Triturus) are widely studied, but their phylogeny is not yet unambiguously resolved. Fragments of mitochondrial DNA experiencing different rates of evolution (the ATPase and 12S rRNA genes) were sequenced in order to test a phylogenetic hypothesis derived from biochemical and behavioral data. Well-supported branches of the existing phylogeny gained support in our study. The monophyletic origin of the hypothesized T. boscai — T. italicus clade remained ambiguous, whereas strong support was gained for the sister-taxon relationship of T. vulgaris and T. montandoni. The position of T. vittatus as a sister taxon to the T. marmoratus species group was also supported. The phylogenetic position of T. alpestris could not be clarified. With an in-group taxon sampling denser than in previous molecular phylogenetic studies and under the a priori selection of species from the genera Cynops, Neurergus and Paramesotriton as out-groups, the monophyly of Triturus was strongly supported. It cannot be excluded, however, that the presumed out-group actually belongs to the in-group, rendering Triturus paraphyletic as was concluded from recently published 12S and 16S rRNA sequence data.

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Contributions to Zoology

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Zajc, I., & Arntzen, J. (1999). Phylogenetic relationships of the European newts (genus Triturus) tested with mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Contributions to Zoology, 68(2), 73–81.