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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2013 Mar;66(3):868-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.11.009. Epub 2012 Nov 22.

Free from mitochondrial DNA: Nuclear genes and the inference of species trees among closely related darter lineages (Teleostei: Percidae: Etheostomatinae).

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Investigations into the phylogenetics of closely related animal species are dominated by the use of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence data. However, the near-ubiquitous use of mtDNA to infer phylogeny among closely related animal lineages is tempered by an increasing number of studies that document high rates of transfer of mtDNA genomes among closely related species through hybridization, leading to substantial discordance between phylogenies inferred from mtDNA and nuclear gene sequences. In addition, the recent development of methods that simultaneously infer a species phylogeny and estimate divergence times, while accounting for incongruence among individual gene trees, has ushered in a new era in the investigation of phylogeny among closely related species. In this study we assess if DNA sequence data sampled from a modest number of nuclear genes can resolve relationships of a species-rich clade of North American freshwater teleost fishes, the darters. We articulate and expand on a recently introduced method to infer a time-calibrated multi-species coalescent phylogeny using the computer program (*)BEAST. Our analyses result in well-resolved and strongly supported time-calibrated darter species tree. Contrary to the expectation that mtDNA will provide greater phylogenetic resolution than nuclear gene data; the darter species tree inferred exclusively from nuclear genes exhibits a higher frequency of strongly supported nodes than the mtDNA time-calibrated gene tree.

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