EST sequencing of Onychophora and phylogenomic analysis of Metazoa.
ABSTRACT Onychophora (velvet worms) represent a small animal taxon considered to be related to Euarthropoda. We have obtained 1873 5' cDNA sequences (expressed sequence tags, ESTs) from the velvet worm Epiperipatus sp., which were assembled into 833 contigs. BLAST similarity searches revealed that 51.9% of the contigs had matches in the protein databases with expectation values lower than 10(-4). Most ESTs had the best hit with proteins from either Chordata or Arthropoda (approximately 40% respectively). The ESTs included sequences of 27 ribosomal proteins. The orthologous sequences from 28 other species of a broad range of phyla were obtained from the databases, including other EST projects. A concatenated amino acid alignment comprising 5021 positions was constructed, which covers 4259 positions when problematic regions were removed. Bayesian and maximum likelihood methods place Epiperipatus within the monophyletic Ecdysozoa (Onychophora, Arthropoda, Tardigrada and Nematoda), but its exact relation to the Euarthropoda remained unresolved. The "Articulata" concept was not supported. Tardigrada and Nematoda formed a well-supported monophylum, suggesting that Tardigrada are actually Cycloneuralia. In agreement with previous studies, we have demonstrated that random sequencing of cDNAs results in sequence information suitable for phylogenomic approaches to resolve metazoan relationships.
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ABSTRACT: Character matrices with extensive missing data are frequently used in phylogenomics with potentially detrimental effects on the accuracy and robustness of tree inference. Therefore, many investigators select taxa and genes with high data coverage. Drawbacks of these selections are their exclusive reliance on data coverage without consideration of actual signal in the data which might, thus, not deliver optimal data matrices in terms of potential phylogenetic signal. In order to circumvent this problem, we have developed a heuristics implemented in a software called mare which (1) assesses information content of genes in supermatrices using a measure of potential signal combined with data coverage and (2) reduces supermatrices with a simple hill climbing procedure to submatrices with high total information content. We conducted simulation studies using matrices of 50 taxa x 50 genes with heterogeneous phylogenetic signal among genes and data coverage between 10 - 30 %. With matrices of 50 taxa x 50 genes with heterogeneous phylogenetic signal among genes and data coverage between 10 - 30 % Maximum Likelihood (ML) tree reconstructions failed to recover correct trees. A selection of a data subset with the herein proposed approach increased the chance to recover correct partial trees more than 10-fold. The selection of data subsets with the herein proposed simple hill climbing procedure performed well either considering the information content or just a simple presence/absence information of genes. We also applied our approach on an empirical data set, addressing questions of vertebrate systematics. With this empirical dataset selecting a data subset with high information content and supporting a tree with high average boostrap support was most successful if information content of genes was considered. Our analyses of simulated and empirical data demonstrate that sparse supermatrices can be reduced on a formal basis outperforming the usually used simple selections of taxa and genes with high data coverage.BMC Bioinformatics 12/2013; 14(1):348. · 3.02 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Remipedia were initially seen as a primitive taxon within Pancrustacea based on characters considered ancestral, such as the homonomously segmented trunk. Meanwhile, several morphological and molecular studies proposed a more derived position of Remipedia within Pancrustacea, including a sister group relationship to Hexapoda. Because of these conflicting hypotheses, fresh data are crucial to contribute new insights into euarthropod phylogeny. The architecture of individually identifiable serotonin-immunoreactive neurons has successfully been used for phylogenetic considerations in Euarthropoda. Here, we identified neurons in three species of Remipedia with an antiserum against serotonin and compared our findings to reconstructed ground patterns in other euarthropod taxa. Additionally, we traced neurite connectivity and neuropil outlines using antisera against acetylated alpha-tubulin and synapsin. RESULTS: The ventral nerve cord of Remipedia displays a typical rope-ladder-like arrangement of separate metameric ganglia linked by paired longitudinally projecting connectives. The peripheral projections comprise an intersegmental nerve, consisting of two branches that fuse shortly after exiting the connectives, and the segmental anterior and posterior nerve. The distribution and morphology of serotonin-immunoreactive interneurons in the trunk segments is highly conserved within the remipede species we analyzed, which allows for the reconstruction of a ground pattern: two posterior and one anterior pair of serotonin-immunoreactive neurons that possess a single contralateral projection. Additionally, three pairs of immunoreactive neurons are found in the medial part of each hemiganglion. In one species (Cryptocorynetes haptodiscus), the anterior pair of immunoreactive neurons is missing. CONCLUSIONS: The anatomy of the remipede ventral nerve cord with its separate metameric ganglia mirrors the external morphology of the animal's trunk. The rope-ladder-like structure and principal architecture of the segmental ganglia in Remipedia corresponds closely to that of other Euarthropoda. A comparison of the serotonin-immunoreactive cell arrangement of Remipedia to reconstructed ground patterns of major euarthropod taxa supports a homology of the anterior and posterior neurons in Pancrustacea. These neurons in Remipedia possess unbranched projections across the midline, pointing towards similarities to the hexapod pattern. Our findings are in line with a growing number of phylogenetic investigations proposing Remipedia to be a rather derived crustacean lineage that perhaps has close affinities to Hexapoda.BMC Evolutionary Biology 06/2013; 13(1):119. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Although molecular analyses have contributed to a better resolution of the animal tree of life, the phylogenetic position of tardigrades (water bears) is still controversial, as they have been united alternatively with nematodes, arthropods, onychophorans (velvet worms), or onychophorans plus arthropods. Depending on the hypothesis favoured, segmental ganglia in tardigrades and arthropods might either have evolved independently, or they might well be homologous, suggesting that they were either lost in onychophorans or are a synapomorphy of tardigrades and arthropods. To evaluate these alternatives, we analysed the organisation of the nervous system in three tardigrade species using antisera directed against tyrosinated and acetylated tubulin, amine transmitter serotonin, and invertebrate neuropeptides FMRFamide, allatostatin and perisulfakinin. In addition, we performed retrograde staining of nerves in the onychophoran Euperipatoides rowelli in order to compare the serial locations of motor neurons within the nervous system relative to the appendages they serve in arthropods, tardigrades and onychophorans. Contrary to a previous report from a Macrobiotus species, our immunocytochemical and electron microscopic data revealed contralateral fibres and bundles of neurites in each trunk ganglion of three tardigrade species, including Macrobiotus cf. harmsworthi, Paramacrobiotus richtersi and Hypsibius dujardini. Moreover, we identified additional, extra-ganglionic commissures in the interpedal regions bridging the paired longitudinal connectives. Within the ganglia we found serially repeated sets of serotonin- and RFamid-like immunoreactive neurons. Furthermore, our data show that the trunk ganglia of tardigrades, which include the somata of motor neurons, are shifted anteriorly with respect to each corresponding leg pair, whereas no such shift is evident in the arrangement of motor neurons in the onychophoran nerve cords. Taken together, these data reveal three major correspondences between the segmental ganglia of tardigrades and arthropods, including (i) contralateral projections and commissures in each ganglion, (ii) segmentally repeated sets of immunoreactive neurons, and (iii) an anteriorly shifted (parasegmental) position of ganglia. These correspondences support the homology of segmental ganglia in tardigrades and arthropods, suggesting that these structures were either lost in Onychophora or, alternatively, evolved in the tardigrade/arthropod lineage.BMC Evolutionary Biology 10/2013; 13(1):230. · 3.29 Impact Factor