Exploring Phylogenetic Relationships within Myriapoda and the Effects of Matrix Composition and Occupancy on Phylogenomic Reconstruction

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Abstract

Myriapods, including the diverse and familiar centipedes and millipedes, are one of the dominant terrestrial arthropod groups. Although molecular evidence has shown that Myriapoda is monophyletic, its internal phylogeny remains contentious and understudied, especially when compared to those of Chelicerata and Hexapoda. Until now, efforts have focused on taxon sampling (e.g., by including a handful of genes from many species) or on maximizing matrix size (e.g., by including hundreds or thousands of genes in just a few species), but a phylogeny maximizing sampling at both levels remains elusive. In this study, we analyzed 40 Illumina transcriptomes representing 3 of the 4 myriapod classes (Diplopoda, Chilopoda, and Symphyla); 25 transcriptomes were newly sequenced to maximize representation at the ordinal level in Diplopoda and at the family level in Chilopoda. Ten supermatrices were constructed to explore the effect of several potential phylogenetic biases (e.g., rate of evolution, heterotachy) at 3 levels of gene occupancy per taxon (50%, 75%, and 90%). Analyses based on maximum likelihood and Bayesian mixture models retrieved monophyly of each myriapod class, and resulted in 2 alternative phylogenetic positions for Symphyla, as sister group to Diplopoda + Chilopoda, or closer to Diplopoda, the latter hypothesis having been traditionally supported by morphology. Within centipedes, all orders were well supported, but 2 deep nodes remained in conflict in the different analyses despite dense taxon sampling at the family level. Relationships among centipede orders in all analyses conducted with the most complete matrix (90% occupancy) are at odds not only with the sparser but more gene-rich supermatrices (75% and 50% supermatrices) and with the matrices optimizing phylogenetic informativeness or most conserved genes, but also with previous hypotheses based on morphology, development, or other molecular data sets. Our results indicate that a high percentage of ribosomal proteins in the most complete matrices, in conjunction with distance from the root, can act in concert to compromise the estimated relationships within the ingroup. We discuss the implications of these findings in the context of the ever more prevalent quest for completeness in phylogenomic studies.

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