Our understanding of phylogenetic relationships among bony fishes has been transformed by analysis of a small number of genes, but uncertainty remains around critical nodes. Genome-scale inferences so far have sampled a limited number of taxa and genes. Here we leveraged 144 genomes and 159 transcriptomes to investigate fish evolution with an unparalleled scale of data: >0.5 Mb from 1,105 orthologous exon sequences from 303 species, representing 66 out of 72 ray-finned fish orders. We apply phylogenetic tests designed to trace the effect of whole-genome duplication events on gene trees and find paralogy-free loci using a bioinformatics approach. Genome-wide data support the structure of the fish phylogeny, and hypothesis-testing procedures appropriate for phylogenomic datasets using explicit gene genealogy interrogation settle some long-standing uncertainties, such as the branching order at the base of the teleosts and among early euteleosts, and the sister lineage to the acanthomorph and percomorph radiations. Comprehensive fossil calibrations date the origin of all major fish lineages before the end of the Cretaceous.
Phylogenomic studies using genome‐wide datasets are quickly becoming the state of the art for systematics and comparative studies, but in many cases, they result in strongly supported incongruent results. The extent to which this conflict is real depends on different sources of error potentially affecting big datasets (assembly, stochastic, and systematic error). Here, we apply a recently developed methodology (GGI or gene genealogy interrogation) and data curation to new and published datasets with more than 1000 exons, 500 ultraconserved element (UCE) loci, and transcriptomic sequences that support incongruent hypotheses. The contentious non‐monophyly of the order Characiformes proposed by two studies is shown to be a spurious outcome induced by sample contamination in the transcriptomic dataset and an ambiguous result due to poor taxonomic sampling in the UCE dataset. By exploring the effects of number of taxa and loci used for analysis, we show that the power of GGI to discriminate among competing hypotheses is diminished by limited taxonomic sampling, but not equally sensitive to gene sampling. Taken together, our results reinforce the notion that merely increasing the number of genetic loci for a few representative taxa is not a robust strategy to advance phylogenetic knowledge of recalcitrant groups. We leverage the expanded exon capture dataset generated here for Characiformes (206 species in 23 out of 24 families) to produce a comprehensive phylogeny and a revised classification of the order.
The Amazon and neighboring South American river basins harbor the world’s most diverse assemblages of freshwater fishes. One of the most prominent South American fish families is the Serrasalmidae (pacus and piranhas), found in nearly every continental basin. Serrasalmids are keystone ecological taxa, being some of the top riverine predators as well as the primary seed dispersers in the flooded forest. Despite their widespread occurrence and notable ecologies, serrasalmid evolutionary history and systematics are controversial. For example, the sister taxon to serrasalmids is contentious, the relationships of major clades within the family are inconsistent across different methodologies, and half of the extant serrasalmid genera are suggested to be non-monophyletic. We analyzed exon capture to reexamine the evolutionary relationships among 63 (of 99) species across all 16 serrasalmid genera and their nearest outgroups, including multiple individuals per species to account for cryptic lineages. To reconstruct the timeline of serrasalmid diversification, we time-calibrated this phylogeny using two different fossil-calibration schemes to account for uncertainty in taxonomy with respect to fossil teeth. Finally, we analyzed diet evolution across the family and comment on associated changes in dentition, highlighting the ecomorphological diversity within serrasalmids. We document widespread non-monophyly of genera within Myleinae, as well as between Serrasalmus and Pristobrycon, and propose that reliance on traits like teeth to distinguish among genera is confounded by ecological homoplasy, especially among herbivorous and omnivorous taxa. We clarify the relationships among all serrasalmid genera, propose new subfamily affiliations, and support hemiodontids as the sister taxon to Serrasalmidae. [Characiformes; exon capture; ichthyochory; molecular time-calibration; piscivory.]
In vertebrates, kisspeptins and their receptors are known to be related to puberty onset and gonadal maturation, however, there are few studies concerning their role in early development. Here, we characterize the kisspeptin system in the pejerrey, Odontesthes bonariensis, a fish with strong temperature-dependent sex determination. We reconstructed the phylogenetic history of the two ligands (kiss1 and kiss 2) and two receptors (kissr2 and kissr3) in pejerrey in the context of recent classifications of bony fishes, determined their tissue distribution and documented the early expression pattern of these ligands and receptors. Phylogenetic analysis of these gene families clearly resolved the percomorph clade and grouped pejerrey with Beloniformes. Paralogous sets of genes putatively arising from the teleost-specific genome duplication event (3R) were not detected. Kisspeptins and their receptors showed a wide tissue distribution in adult pejerrey, including tissues not related to reproduction. In larvae reared at 24°C, the four kisspeptin elements were expressed in the head from week 1 to week 8 of life, with no differences in transcript levels. Larvae kept at a female-producing temperature (17°C) did not show statistically significant differences in the transcript levels of all analyzed genes during the sex determination/differentiation period; however, in those larvae raised at male producing temperature (29°C), kiss2 levels were increased at week 4 after hatching. These results showed that all members of the kisspeptin system are expressed at this early period, and the increase of kiss2 transcripts at week 4 could be interpreted as it would be related to the differentiation of the brain-pituitary axis in male development.
Repeatable, convergent outcomes are prima facie evidence for determinism in evolutionary processes. Among fishes, well-known examples include microevolutionary habitat transitions into the water column, where freshwater populations (e.g., sticklebacks, cichlids, and whitefishes) recurrently diverge toward slender-bodied pelagic forms and deep-bodied benthic forms. However, the consequences of such processes at deeper macroevolutionary scales in the marine environment are less clear. We applied a phylogenomics-based integrative, comparative approach to test hypotheses about the scope and strength of convergence in a marine fish clade with a worldwide distribution (snappers and fusiliers, family Lutjanidae) featuring multiple water-column transitions over the past 45 million years. We collected genome-wide exon data for 110 (∼80%) species in the group and aggregated data layers for body shape, habitat occupancy, geographic distribution, and paleontological and geological information. We also implemented approaches using genomic subsets to account for phylogenetic uncertainty in comparative analyses. Our results show independent incursions into the water column by ancestral benthic lineages in all major oceanic basins. These evolutionary transitions are persistently associated with convergent phenotypes, where deep-bodied benthic forms with truncate caudal fins repeatedly evolve into slender midwater species with furcate caudal fins. Lineage diversification and transition dynamics vary asymmetrically between habitats, with benthic lineages diversifying faster and colonizing midwater habitats more often than the reverse. Convergent ecological and functional phenotypes along the benthic–pelagic axis are pervasive among different lineages and across vastly different evolutionary scales, achieving predictable high-fitness solutions for similar environmental challenges, ultimately demonstrating strong determinism in fish body-shape evolution.
Bonytongues (Osteoglossomorpha) constitute an ancient clade of teleost fishes distributed in freshwater habitats throughout the world. The group includes well-known species such as arowanas, featherbacks, pirarucus, and the weakly electric fishes in the family Mormyridae. Their disjunct distribution, extreme morphologies, and electrolocating capabilities (Gymnarchidae and Mormyridae) have attracted much scientific interest, but a comprehensive phylogenetic framework for comparative analysis is missing, especially for the species-rich family Mormyridae. Of particular interest are disparate craniofacial morphologies among mormyrids which might constitute an exceptional model system to study convergent evolution. We present a phylogenomic analysis based on 546 exons of 179 species (out of 260), 28 out of 29 genera, and all six families of extant bonytongues. Based on a recent reassessment of the fossil record of osteoglossomorphs, we inferred dates of divergence among trans-continental clades and the major groups. The estimated ages of divergence among extant taxa (e.g., Osteoglossomorpha, Osteoglossiformes, Mormyroidea) are older than previous reports, but most of the divergence dates obtained for clades on separate continents are too young to be explained by simple vicariance hypotheses. Biogeographic analysis of mormyrids indicates that their high species diversity in the Congo Basin is a consequence of range reductions of previously widespread ancestors and that the highest diversity of craniofacial morphologies among mormyrids originated in this basin. Special emphasis on a taxon-rich representation for mormyrids revealed pervasive misalignment between our phylogenomic results and mormyrid taxonomy due to repeated instances of convergence for extreme craniofacial morphologies. Estimation of ancestral phenotypes revealed contingent evolution of snout elongation and unique projections from the lower jaw to form the distinctive Schnauzenorgan. Synthesis of comparative analyses suggests that the remarkable craniofacial morphologies of mormyrids evolved convergently due to niche partitioning, likely enabled by interactions between their exclusive morphological and electrosensory adaptations.
The use of high-throughput sequencing technologies to produce genome-scale datasets was expected to settle some long-standing controversies across the Tree of Life, particularly in areas where short branches occur at deep timescales. Instead, these datasets have often yielded many well-supported but conflicting topologies, and highly variable gene-tree distributions. A variety of branch-support metrics beyond the nonparametric bootstrap are now available to assess how robust a phylogenetic hypothesis may be, as well as new methods to quantify gene-tree discordance. We applied multiple branch support metrics to an ancient group of marine fishes (Teleostei: Pelagiaria) whose interfamilial relationships have proven difficult to resolve due to a rapid accumulation of lineages very early in its history. We analyzed hundreds of loci including published UCE data and newly generated exonic data along with their flanking regions to represent all 16 extant families for more than 150 out of 284 valid species in the group. Branch support was lower for interfamilial relationships (except the SH-like aLRT and aBayes methods) regardless of the type of marker used. Several nodes that were highly supported with bootstrap had very low site and gene-tree concordance, revealing underlying conflict. Despite this conflict, we were able to identify four consistent interfamilial clades, each comprised of two or three families. Combining exons with their flanking regions also produced increased branch lengths in the deep branches of the pelagiarian tree. Our results demonstrate the limitations of employing current metrics of branch support and species-tree estimation when assessing the confidence of ancient evolutionary radiations and emphasize the necessity to embrace alternative measurements to explore phylogenetic uncertainty and discordance in phylogenomic datasets.
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