Rates of protein, chromosome and morphological evolution in four genera of rhombomyine gerbils

Mazin B. Qumsiyeh, Ronald K. Chesser

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Electrophoretic, G- and C-band chromosomal, and morphological characters were examined in relation to evolutionary change for Desmodillus auricularis, Psammomys obesus, Sekeetamys calurus, Meriones shawi, and M. unguiculatus. Chromosomal evolution in these genera was complex and comparable to that found in the previously studied genera Tatera and Gerbillurus. Examination of 33 isoenzyme loci assayed by starch gel electrophoresis showed only three monomorphic loci and alternate allelic fixation occurring primarily at the generic level. Morphological, chromosomal, and electrophoretic data sets were found to be concordant in a cladistic arrangement of genera. However, the rates of fixation of electrophoretic and chromosomal characters in each lineage were not equal. The specialized morphology of Sekeetamys calurus coupled with extensive chromosomal rearrangements apparently has not been accompanied by a correlated rate of protein (genetic) evolution. The numbers of measured protein substitutions as judged by electrophoresis since divergence from a common ancestor for this and three other genera of gerbils were not significantly different from equality. This suggests that different parameters affect chromosomal and protein evolution in gerbils or the magnitude of effect varies for these parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-103
Number of pages15
JournalBiochemical Systematics and Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1988


  • G-banded chromosomes
  • Gerbillidae
  • Rhombomyinae
  • alloenzymes
  • morphology
  • phylogenetic relationships
  • rates of evolutionary change


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