Extreme sequence divergence between mitochondrial genomes of two subspecies of White-breasted Wood-wren (Henicorhina leucosticta Cabanis, 1847) from western and central Panamá

Celestino Aguilar, Luis Fernando De Léon, José R Loaiza, W Owen McMillan, Matthew J Miller, Mitochondrial DNA Part A 27 :956-957 (2016).


Prior studies of mitochondrial variation in White-breasted Wood-Wrens (Henicorhina leucosticta) have suggested that populations in South American and Mesoamerica might represent multiple species. Here we report the complete mitochondrial genomes from two individuals of H. leucosticta, representing the Panamanian subspecies pittieri and alexandri. The two sequences were 16,721 and 16,726 base pairs in size with both genomes comprised of the usual 22 tRNA genes, 2 rRNA genes, 13 protein-coding genes, and one displacement loop region in the standard avian order. Uncorrected pairwise divergence between mitogenome features was high, with the highest divergence occurring in protein-coding genes (average = 8.2%), followed by control region (6.7%). RNA features had lower pairwise divergences (average tRNA = 4.3%, average rRNA = 2.3%). The protein-coding ATPase 6 gene had a different stop codon between these two specimens. The high level of sequence variation between these subspecies suggests that Mesoamerican H. leucosticta might be comprised of multiple species. We urge a full phylogeographic survey of this widespread Neotropical forest bird.