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Mol Biol Evol. 2010 Nov;27(11):2451-64. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msq130. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

A phylogenomic approach to resolve the arthropod tree of life.

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Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Molecular Biology Unit, Bonn, Germany.


Arthropods were the first animals to conquer land and air. They encompass more than three quarters of all described living species. This extraordinary evolutionary success is based on an astoundingly wide array of highly adaptive body organizations. A lack of robustly resolved phylogenetic relationships, however, currently impedes the reliable reconstruction of the underlying evolutionary processes. Here, we show that phylogenomic data can substantially advance our understanding of arthropod evolution and resolve several conflicts among existing hypotheses. We assembled a data set of 233 taxa and 775 genes from which an optimally informative data set of 117 taxa and 129 genes was finally selected using new heuristics and compared with the unreduced data set. We included novel expressed sequence tag (EST) data for 11 species and all published phylogenomic data augmented by recently published EST data on taxonomically important arthropod taxa. This thorough sampling reduces the chance of obtaining spurious results due to stochastic effects of undersampling taxa and genes. Orthology prediction of genes, alignment masking tools, and selection of most informative genes due to a balanced taxa-gene ratio using new heuristics were established. Our optimized data set robustly resolves major arthropod relationships. We received strong support for a sister group relationship of onychophorans and euarthropods and strong support for a close association of tardigrades and cycloneuralia. Within pancrustaceans, our analyses yielded paraphyletic crustaceans and monophyletic hexapods and robustly resolved monophyletic endopterygote insects. However, our analyses also showed for few deep splits that were recently thought to be resolved, for example, the position of myriapods, a remarkable sensitivity to methods of analyses.

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