The macaques, genus Macaca, represent one of the most successful radiations within the Order Primates, with a geographical distribution that ranks second in size only to that of humans among extant primates. Although the number of macaque species recognized depends on the classification scheme used, most authors currently follow the classifications of either Fooden or Delson, both of whom recognize 19 extant macaque species. These two classifications differ in their placement of macaque species into more inclusive taxa (i.e., species groups). While researchers have attempted to use mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to resolve these phylogenetic relationships, different studies have generated conflicting conclusions. Consequently, we screened nuclear DNA sequences of a large number of macaques to determine if such data provide greater insight into the phylogenetic relationships among macaques. The data generated from the comparison of two (noncoding) introns within the natural resistance-associated macrophage protein 1 (NRAMP1) gene generally agree with the classification scheme of Delson. However, the data also support several novel observations. Specifically, the NRAMP1 data demonstrate that M. silenus and M. nemestrina lack nuclear genetic variation, while M. assamensis and M. radiata exhibit the greatest amount of genetic variation. In addition, these data suggest that M. fascicularis may not be as "primitive" (with respect to other members of the fascicularis group) as the mtDNA based data suggest.
- DNA polymorphism
- Macaca phylogeny