Publication Type:

Journal Article


Syst Biol, Volume 57, Number 6, p.920-938 (2008)


This study attempts to resolve relationships among and within the four basal arthropod lineages (Pancrustacea, Myriapoda, Euchelicerata, Pycnogonida) and to assess the widespread expectation that remaining phylogenetic problems will yield to increasing amounts of sequence data. Sixty-eight regions of 62 protein-coding nuclear genes (approximately 41 kilobases (kb)/taxon) were sequenced for 12 taxonomically diverse arthropod taxa and a tardigrade outgroup. Parsimony, likelihood, and Bayesian analyses of total nucleotide data generally strongly supported the monophyly of each of the basal lineages represented by more than one species. Other relationships within the Arthropoda were also supported, with support levels depending on method of analysis and inclusion/exclusion of synonymous changes. Removing third codon positions, where the assumption of base compositional homogeneity was rejected, altered the results. Removing the final class of synonymous mutations–first codon positions encoding leucine and arginine, which were also compositionally heterogeneous–yielded a data set that was consistent with a hypothesis of base compositional homogeneity. Furthermore, under such a data-exclusion regime, all 68 gene regions individually were consistent with base compositional homogeneity. Restricting likelihood analyses to nonsynonymous change recovered trees with strong support for the basal lineages but not for other groups that were variably supported with more inclusive data sets. In a further effort to increase phylogenetic signal, three types of data exploration were undertaken. (1) Individual genes were ranked by their average rate of nonsynonymous change, and three rate categories were assigned–fast, intermediate, and slow. Then, bootstrap analysis of each gene was performed separately to see which taxonomic groups received strong support. Five taxonomic groups were strongly supported independently by two or more genes, and these genes mostly belonged to the slow or intermediate categories, whereas groups supported only by a single gene region tended to be from genes of the fast category, arguing that fast genes provide a less consistent signal. (2) A sensitivity analysis was performed in which increasing numbers of genes were excluded, beginning with the fastest. The number of strongly supported nodes increased up to a point and then decreased slightly. Recovery of Hexapoda required removal of fast genes. Support for Mandibulata (Pancrustacea + Myriapoda) also increased, at times to "strong" levels, with removal of the fastest genes. (3) Concordance selection was evaluated by clustering genes according to their ability to recover Pancrustacea, Euchelicerata, or Myriapoda and analyzing the three clusters separately. All clusters of genes recovered the three concordance clades but were at times inconsistent in the relationships recovered among and within these clades, a result that indicates that the a priori concordance criteria may bias phylogenetic signal in unexpected ways. In a further attempt to increase support of taxonomic relationships, sequence data from 49 additional taxa for three slow genes (i.e., EF-1 alpha, EF-2, and Pol II) were combined with the various 13-taxon data sets. The 62-taxon analyses supported the results of the 13-taxon analyses and provided increased support for additional pancrustacean clades found in an earlier analysis including only EF-1 alpha, EF-2, and Pol II.