Resolving Rapid Radiations within Angiosperm Families Using Anchored Phylogenomics

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Despite the promise that molecular data would provide a seemingly unlimited source of independent characters, many plant phylogenetic studies are still based on only two regions, the plastid genome and nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA). Their popularity can be explained by high-copy numbers and universal polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers that make their sequences easily amplified and converted into parallel datasets. Unfortunately, their utility is limited by linked loci and limited characters resulting in low confidence in the accuracy of phylogenetic estimates, especially when rapid radiations occur. In another contribution on anchored phylogenomics in angiosperms, we presented flowering plant-specific anchored enrichment probes for hundreds of conserved nuclear genes and demonstrated their use at the level of all angiosperms. In this contribution, we focus on a common problem in phylogenetic reconstructions below the family level: Weak or unresolved backbone due to rapid radiations (≤10 million years) followed by long divergence, using the Cariceae-Dulichieae-Scirpeae (CDS, Cyperaceae) clade as a test case. By comparing our nuclear matrix of 461 genes to a typical Sanger-sequence dataset consisting of a few plastid genes (matK, ndhF) and an nrDNA marker (ETS), we demonstrate that our nuclear data is fully compatible with the Sanger dataset and resolves short backbone internodes with high support in both concatenated and coalescence-based analyses. In addition, we show that nuclear gene tree incongruence is inversely proportional to phylogenetic information content, indicating that incongruence is mostly due to gene tree estimation error. This suggests that large numbers of conserved nuclear loci could produce more accurate trees than sampling rapidly evolving regions prone to saturation and long-branch attraction. The robust phylogenetic estimates obtained here, and high congruence with previous morphological and molecular analyses, are strong evidence for a complete tribal revision of CDS clade. The anchored hybrid enrichment probes used in this study should be similarly effective in other flowering plant groups.

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