Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (Mol Phylogenet Evol )

Publisher: Elsevier


Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution is dedicated to bringing Darwin's dream - to "have fairly true genealogical trees of each great kingdom of Nature" - within grasp. The journal provides a forum for molecular studies that advance our understanding of phylogeny and evolution. This journal plays an important role by publishing the results of molecular studies that identify the actual clades to which different species and higher taxa belong. Such knowledge will further the development of phylogenetically more accurate taxonomic classifications and ultimately lead to a unified classification for all the ramifying lines of life.

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    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution website
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    Molecular phylogenetics and evolution (Online), Molecular phylogenetics and evolution
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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau is characterized by complex topography and a discontinuous landscape, creating a sky island situation. However, the way topography shapes genetic structures and demographic histories of endemic species has not been well studied. We examined the phylogeographic pattern and demographic histories of Sorex bedfordiae, a dispersal-limited small mammal, using three nuclear genes [1977 bp] and two mitochondrial genes [1794 bp] with comprehensive molecular approaches. We recovered five well-supported clades whose distributions are along mountain ridges and roughly subdivided by large rivers. Demographic expansions in the middle Pleistocene were strongly supported by both nuclear and mitochondrial genes. Our results support the hypothesis that sky island topography and river systems strongly affect the genetic structure of non-aquatic terrestrial species. We further clarify that S. bedfordiae and S. cylindricauda are valid sibling species, whereas S. excelsus is most likely a geographic subspecies of S. bedfordiae.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: The phylogeny of Coralliidae is being increasingly studied to elucidate their evolutionary history and species delimitation due to global concerns about their conservation. Previous studies on phylogenetic relationships within Coralliidae have pointed out that the two currently recognized genera are not monophyletic and the Coralliidae should be divided into three genera. In order to provide a comprehensive revision of the taxonomy of Coralliidae, we documented 110 specimens using eight mitochondrial and one nuclear loci to reconstruct their phylogeny. The morphological features of 27 type specimens were also examined. Phylogenetic relationships based on both mitochondrial and nuclear markers revealed two reciprocally monophyletic clades of Coralliidae. One of the clades was further split into two subclades with respect to sequence variation and observable morphological features. Based on the results of genealogical analyses and distinctive morphological features, the three genera classification of Coralliidae proposed by Gray (1867) was redefined. In this revised taxonomic system, Corallium, Hemicorallium, and Pleurocorallium consist of 7, 16 and 14 species, respectively. Our results also showed that the cosmopolitan Hemicorallium laauense is a species complex containing a cryptic species.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Fishes described as “anti-equatorial” have disjunct distributions, inhabiting temperate habitat patches on both sides of the tropics. Several alternative hypotheses suggest how and when species with disjunct distributions crossed uninhabitable areas, including: ancient vicariant events, competitive exclusion from the tropics, and more recent dispersal during Pliocene and Pleistocene glacial periods. Surgeonfishes in the genus Prionurus can provide novel insight into this pattern as its member species have disjunct distributions inhabiting either temperate latitudes, cold-water upwellings in the tropics, or low diversity tropical reef ecosystems. Here the evolutionary history and historical biogeography of Prionurus is examined using a dataset containing both mitochondrial and nuclear data for all seven extant species. Our results indicate that Prionurus is monophyletic and Miocene in origin. Several relationships remain problematic, including the placement of the Australian P. microlepidotus, and the relationship between P. laticlavius and P. punctatus. Equatorial divergence events between temperate western Pacific habitats occurred at least twice in Prionurus: once in the Miocene and again in the late Pliocene/early Pleistocene. Three species with tropical affinities, P. laticlavius P. punctatus, and P. biafraensis, form a clade that originated in the Pliocene. These results suggest that a variety of mechanisms may regulate the disjunct distribution of temperate fishes, and provide support for both older and younger equatorial crossing events. They also suggest that interspecific competitive exclusion may be influential in fishes with “anti-equatorial” distributions.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: The genus Sphenarium (Pyrgomorphidae) is a small group of grasshoppers endemic to México and Guatemala that are economically and culturally important both as a food source and as agricultural pests. However, its taxonomy has been largely neglected mainly due to its conserved interspecific external morphology and the considerable intraspecific variation in colour pattern of some taxa. Here we examined morphological as well as mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data to assess the species boundaries and evolutionary history in Sphenarium. Our morphological identification and DNA sequence-based species delimitation, carried out with three different approaches (DNA barcoding, general mixed Yule-coalescent model, Bayesian species delimitation), all recovered a higher number of putative species of Sphenarium than previously recognised. We unambiguously delimit seven species, and between five and ten additional species depending on the data/method analysed. Phylogenetic relationships within the genus strongly support two main clades, one exclusively montane, the other coastal. Divergence time estimates suggest late Miocene to Pliocene ages for the origin and most of the early diversification events in the genus, which were probably influenced by the formation of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. A series of Pleistocene events could have led to the current species diversification in both montane and coastal regions. This study not only reveals an overlooked species richness for the most popular edible insect in Mexico, but also highlights the influence of the dynamic geological and climatic history of the region in shaping its current diversity.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: A series of taxonomic questions at the subfamilial, generic, and intrageneric levels have remained within subfamily Chlorogaloideae s.s. (comprising Camassia, Chlorogalum, Hastingsia, and Schoenolirion) and relatives in Agavaceae. We present the first phylogenetic hypotheses focused on Chlorogaloideae that are based on multiple independent loci and include a wide sampling of outgroups across Agavaceae. In addition to chloroplast regions ndhF and trnL–trnF, we used nrDNA ITS for phylogenetic inference. Incomplete concerted evolution of the latter is indicated by intra-individual site polymorphisms for nearly half of the individuals. Comparisons of four coding and analysis methods for these characters indicate that the region remains phylogenetically informative. Our results confirm that Chlorogaloideae s.s. is not monophyletic, due to the close relationship of Schoenolirion with Hesperaloe and Hesperoyucca, as well as the likely sister relationship between Hesperocallis and core Chlorogaloideae (Camassia, Chlorogalum, and Hastingsia). Chlorogalum is also not monophyletic, being divided with strong support into vespertine and diurnal clades. This study produced the first phylogenetic hypotheses across Hesperaloe, allowing initial tests of several taxonomic disagreements within this genus. Our results reveal the lack of cohesion of H. funifera, indicating that H. funifera ssp. funifera may be more closely related to H. campanulata than to H. funifera ssp. chiangii (=H. chiangii). With potential gene flow between many members of Hesperaloe and a possible hybrid origin for H. campanulata, the genetic relationships within this genus appear complex. Further population-level investigation of many of the taxa in Chlorogaloideae s.l. would benefit our understanding of the evolution and taxonomy of these groups; Camassia and Hastingsia are the current focus of ongoing study.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Osmorhiza Raf. (Apiaceae) contains about 12 species disjunctly distributed in temperate Asia, and North, Central to South America. Phylogenetic and biogeographic analyses were carried out applying sequences of two nuclear and nine plastid loci from eleven recognized Osmorhiza species. The nuclear ITS and ETS and the plastid data fully resolved the infrageneric relationships, yet the two phylogenies were largely incongruent. Comparisons of nuclear and plastid phylogenies revealed several interspecific chloroplast transfer events in Osmorhiza, one of which involved an extinct or an unsampled lineage. This genus was inferred to have originated in the Old World during the late Miocene (11.02 mya, 95% HPD: 9.13 - 12.93 mya), and the crown of the genus was dated to be in the late Miocene (5.51 mya, 95% HPD: 2.81 - 8.37 mya). Species of Osmorhiza were inferred to have migrated from the Old World into North America across the Bering land bridge during the late Miocene, and they then diversified in the New World through multiple dispersal and divergence events. The intraspecific amphitropical disjunctions between North and South America, and the eastern and western North American disjunctions within O. berteroi and O. depauperata were hypothesized to be via recent long-distance dispersals most likely facilitated by birds. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Despite many advances in evolutionary biology, understanding the proximate mechanisms that lead to speciation for many taxonomic groups remains elusive. Phylogenetic analyses provide a means to generate well-supported estimates of species relationships. Understanding how genetic isolation (restricted gene flow) occurred in the past requires not only a well-supported molecular phylogenetic analysis, but also an understanding of when character states that define species may have changed. In this study, phylogenetic trees resolve species level relationships for fourteen of the fifteen species within Columnea section Angustiflorae (Gesneriaceae). The distributions of sister species pairs are compared and ancestral character states are reconstructed using Bayesian stochastic mapping. Climate variables were also assessed and shifts in ancestral climate conditions were mapped using SEEVA. The relationships between morphological character states and climate variables were assessed with correlation analyses. These results indicate that species in section Angustiflorae have likely diverged as a result of allopatric, parapatric, and sympatric speciation, with both biotic and abiotic forces driving morphological and phenological divergence.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: We developed a novel BLAST-Based Relative Distance (BBRD) method by Pearson’s correlation coefficient to avoid the problems of tedious multiple sequence alignment and complicated outgroup selection. We showed its application on reconstructing reliable phylogeny for nucleotide and protein sequences as exemplified by the fmr-1 gene and dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase, respectively. We then used BBRD to resolve 124 protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs) that are homologues of nine mammalian PRMTs. The tree placed the uncharacterized PRMT9 with PRMT7 in the same clade, outside of all the Type I PRMTs including PRMT1 and its vertebrate paralogue PRMT8, PRMT3, PRMT6, PRMT2 and PRMT4. The PRMT7/9 branch then connects with the type II PRMT5. Some non-vertebrates contain different PRMTs without high sequence homology with the mammalian PRMTs. For example, in the case of Drosophila arginine methyltransferase (DART) and Trypanosoma brucei methyltransferases (TbPRMTs) in the analyses, the BBRD program grouped them with specific clades and thus suggested their evolutionary relationships. The BBRD method thus provided a great tool to construct a reliable tree for members of protein families through evolution.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: The family Iridoviridae of the superfamily Megavirales currently consists of five genera. Three of these, Lymphocystivirus, Megalocytivirus and Ranavirus, are composed of species that infect vertebrates, and the other two, Chloriridovirus and Iridovirus, contain species that infect invertebrates. Until recently, the lack of genomic sequence data limited investigation of the evolutionary relationships between the invertebrate iridoviruses (IIVs) and vertebrate iridoviruses (VIVs), as well as the relationship of these viruses to those of the closely related family Ascoviridae, which only contains species that infect insects. To help clarify the phylogenetic relationships of these viruses, we recently published the annotated genome sequences of five additional IIV isolates. Here, using classical approaches of phylogeny via maximum likelihood, a Bayesian approach, and resolution of a core protein tree, we demonstrate that the invertebrate and vertebrate IV species constitute two lineages that diverged early during the evolution of the family Iridoviridae, before the emergence of the four IIV clades, previously referred to as Chloriridoviruses, Polyiridoviruses, Oligoiridoviruses and Crustaceoiridoviruses. In addition, we provide evidence that species of the family Ascoviridae have a more recent origin than most iridoviruses, emerging just before the differentiation between the Oligoiridoviruses and Crustaceoiridovirus clades. Our results also suggest that after emergence, based on their molecular clock, the ascoviruses evolved more quickly than their closest iridovirus relatives.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Determining factors that facilitate the transition from a solitary to a social lifestyle is a major challenge in evolutionary biology, especially in taxa that are usually aggressive towards conspecifics. Most spiders live solitarily and few species are known to be social. Nevertheless, sociality has evolved multiple times across several families and nearly all studied social lineages have originated from a periodically social (subsocial) ancestor. Group-living crab spiders (Thomisidae) are exclusively found in Australia and differ from most other social spiders because they lack a communal capture web. Three of the group-living species were placed in the genus Diaea and another in the genus Xysticus. Most Australian thomisids are, however, difficult to identify as most descriptions are old and of poor quality, and the genera Diaea and Xysticus may not correspond to monophyletic groups. Here, we clarify the phylogenetic relationships of the four group-living Australian thomisids and conclude that amongst these subsociality has evolved two to three times independently. The subsocial Xysticus bimaculatus is not closely related to any of the social Diaea and an independent origin of subsociality is likely in this case. The presented data indicates that within Diaea two origins of subsociality are possible. Our results help to understand the evolution of sociality in thomisids and support the hypothesis that permanent sociality in spiders has evolved multiple times relatively recently from subsocial ancestors.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 01/2015; 82:330–340.
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    ABSTRACT: Batfishes (Ogcocephalidae) are an understudied, group of marine anglerfishes that are dorsoventrally flattened and have an illicium and esca (terminal lure) used to attract prey. The family contains 10 genera and 75 recognized species from nearly all tropical and subtropical seas. Relationships among these taxa, as well as the position of Ogcocephalidae within Lophiiformes, remain poorly understood with previous studies showing conflicting, and poorly resolved results. The timing of divergence and depth of origination in the water column have also not been explored in any detail. In this study a concatenated nuclear (three genes) and mitochondrial (two genes) dataset was constructed across several anglerfish families to elucidate phylogenetic relationships among all ten batfish genera, to clarify the placement of Ogcocephaloidei within Lophiiformes, and to estimate divergence times using fossil calibrations. An ancestral state reconstruction was also conducted to examine the history of shifts in preferred habitat depths within batfishes. Phylogenetic analyses supported monophyly of each sub-order within Lophiiformes and placed Ogcocephaloidei as the sister group to Antennarioidei. Batfish genera were divided into an Eastern Pacific/Western Atlantic clade and an Indo-Pacific clade; Halieutaea was recovered as the sister group to all other batfishes. Based on divergence time estimations and ancestral state reconstructions of preferred depth, Ogcocephalidae is Eocene in age and originated on the lower continental shelf/upper continental slope (disphotic zone). Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Birds are the most diverse tetrapod class, with about 10,000 extant species that represent a remarkable evolutionary radiation in which most taxa arose during a short period of time. There has been a tremendous increase in the amount of molecular data available from birds, and more than two-thirds of these species have some sequence data available. Here we assembled these available sequence data from birds to estimate a large-scale avian phylogeny. We performed an unconstrained maximum likelihood analysis of a sparse supermatrix comprising 22 nuclear loci and seven mitochondrial regions from 6714 species. We inferred a phylogeny with a backbone remarkably similar to that obtained by detailed analyses of multigene datasets, yet with the addition of thousands of more taxa. All orders were monophyletic with generally high support. While most families and genera were well supported, a number of them, especially within the oscine passerines, had little or no support. This likely reflects problems with the circumscription of these genera and families. Our results indicate that the amount of sequence data currently available is sufficient to produce a robust estimate of the avian tree of life using current methods of inference. The availability of a tree that is unconstrained by prior information, with branch lengths that have a direct connection to the underlying data, should be useful for comparative methods, taxonomic revisions, and prioritizing taxa that should be targeted for additional data collection. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Higher-level hymenopteran relationships remain unresolved in both morphological and molecular analyses. In this study, we present the most comprehensive analyses of hymenopteran relationships based on 48 mitochondrial (mt) genomes. One complete and two nearly complete mt genomes representing three hymenopteran superfamilies were newly sequenced. We assessed the influence of inclusion/exclusion of 3(rd) codon positions, alignment approaches, partition schemes and phylogenetic approaches on topology and nodal support within the Hymenoptera. The results showed that the topologies were sensitive to the variation of dataset and analytical approach. However, some robust and highly supported relationships were recovered: the Ichneumonomorpha was monophyletic; the Trigonalyoidea + Megalyroidea and the Diaprioidea + Chalcidoidea were consistently recovered; the Cynipoidea was generally recovered as the sister group to the Diaprioidea + Chalcidoidea. In addition, the monophyletic Aculeata and Proctotrupomorpha were recovered in some analyses. Several gene rearrangements were detected in each of the three newly sequenced mt genomes. Specifically, the Ibalia leucospoides mt genome harbors a large inversion of a gene block from trnE to trnS2. Inverted, duplicated A+T rich regions were detected in the Ibalia leucospoides mt genome, which probably played an important role during the formation of the large gene block inversion via recombination. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 12/2014;