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J Evol Biol. 2018 Nov;31(11):1623-1631. doi: 10.1111/jeb.13355. Epub 2018 Aug 16.

Multispecies coalescent analysis confirms standing phylogenetic instability in Hexapoda.

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Departamento de Genética, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.


The multispecies coalescent (MSC) has been increasingly used in phylogenomic analyses due to the accommodation of gene tree topological heterogeneity by taking into account population-level processes, such as incomplete lineage sorting. In this sense, the phylogeny of insect species, which are characterized by their large effective population sizes, is suitable for a coalescent-based analysis. Furthermore, studies so far recovered short internal branches at early divergences of the insect tree of life, indicating fast evolutionary radiations that increase the probability of incomplete lineage sorting in deep time. Here, we investigated the performance of the MSC for a phylogenomic data set of hexapods compiled by Misof et al. (2014, Science 346:763). Our analysis recovered the monophyly of most insect orders, and major phylogenetic relationships were in agreement with current insect systematics. We identified, however, some evolutionary associations that were consistently problematic. Most noticeable, Hexapod monophyly was disrupted by the sister group relationship between the remiped crustacean and Insecta. Additionally, the interordinal relationships within Polyneoptera and Neuropteroidea were found to be phylogenetically unstable. We show that these controversial phylogenetic arrangements were also poorly supported by previous analyses, and therefore, we evaluated their robustness to stochastic errors from sampling sites and terminals, confirming standing problems in hexapod phylogeny in the genomics age.


Insecta; effective population size; incomplete lineage sorting; phylogenomics

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