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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2008 Sep;48(3):877-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2008.05.023. Epub 2008 May 27.

Evaluating nuclear protein-coding genes for phylogenetic utility in beetles.

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Department of Entomology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.


Although nuclear protein-coding genes have proven broadly useful for phylogenetic inference, relatively few such genes are regularly employed in studies of Coleoptera, the most diverse insect order. We increase the number of loci available for beetle systematics by developing protocols for three genes previously unused in beetles (alpha-spectrin, RNA polymerase II and topoisomerase I) and by refining protocols for five genes already in use (arginine kinase, CAD, enolase, PEPCK and wingless). We evaluate the phylogenetic performance of each gene in a Bayesian framework against a presumably known test phylogeny. The test phylogeny covers 31 beetle specimens and two outgroup taxa of varying age, including three of the four extant beetle suborders and a denser sampling in Adephaga and in the carabid genus Bembidion. All eight genes perform well for Cenozoic divergences and accurately separate closely related species within Bembidion, but individual genes differ markedly in accuracy over the older Mesozoic and Permian divergences. The concatenated data reconstruct the test phylogeny with high support in both Bayesian and parsimony analyses, indicating that combining data from multiple nuclear loci will be a fruitful approach for assembling the beetle tree of life.

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