Table of Contents
  • Volume 46 Issue 3

    Special issue: Patterns of Evolution and the Tree of Life

      Research Articles
    • De-Yuan Hong, Zhi-Duan Chen, Yin-Long Qiu, Michael J. Donoghue
      2008, 46 (3): 237–238
      One and half centuries ago, Charles Darwin (1859) argued that all living species shared common ancestors in the past, and Ernst Haeckel (1886) and other biologists in the late 1800's attempted to trace patterns of decent among all extant and extinct forms in what Darwin referred to as "the great Tree of Life." Ever since then, systematists and evolutionary biologists have been exploring historical information encoded in morphology and molecules, and actively developing theories and methods to infer phylogenetic relationships among organisms from this information. This endeavor has been especially stimulated by the rise of molecular biology and the emergence of computer science over the past 50 years. At the beginning of the 21st century, we are presented with an unprecedented opportunity to reconstruct the entire tree of life, and further, to study evolution in the context of a robust phylogenetic framework. Over the past decade, research on reconstructing the tree of life has been remarkably active, and knowledge is expanding exponentially (Cracraft and Donoghue, 2004; see also Pennisi 2003). On June 3-7, 2007, an international symposium on tree of life research was held in Beijing, China. It brought together some 20 leading speakers from Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S.A., and nearly 300 scientists from within China. This special issue of the Journal of Systematics and Evolution consists of 16 of the papers that were presented at the symposium. They represent a broad spectrum of research in systematics and evolutionary biology, ranging from exploration of theoretical issues, such as the effects of taxon and character sampling on phylogenetic analyses, to empirical studies and reviews of the use of multigene and whole genome analyses to infer the phylogeny of prokaryotes, protists, fungi, animals, and plants. These contributions also feature examples of the uses of phylogenetic approaches in studying historical biogeography, character evolution, and the evolutionary history of genes controlling chromosomal structural dynamics and development in eukaryotes. These papers provide an excellent sample of what can be expected in the future, as phylogenetic research becomes increasingly integrated with emerging fields in evolutionary biology, such as evolutionary developmental biology, evolutionary genomics, and evolutionary ecology. We have so much more to learn about how to harness the power of the phylogenetic knowledge that is materializing so rapidly, and we are excited about the prospects of developing a truly integrative phylogenetic biology over the coming decades. The symposium was financially supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China; the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the bioGENESIS core program within DIVERSITAS; the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; the Jiangsu Institute of Botany, Jiangsu Province and the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences; the Beijing Botanical Garden; the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences; the College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University; and the School of Life Sciences, Fudan University. We are extremely grateful to all of these sponsors and delighted to present the outcome of their generous support in this special issue.
    • Tracy A. HEATH, Shannon M. HEDTKE, and David M. HILLIS
      2008, 46 (3): 239–257
      Appropriate and extensive taxon sampling is one of the most important determinants of accurate phylogenetic estimation. In addition, accuracy of inferences about evolutionary processes obtained from phylogenetic analyses is improved significantly by thorough taxon sampling efforts. Many recent efforts to improve phylogenetic estimates have focused instead on increasing sequence length or the number of overall characters in the analysis, and this often does have a beneficial effect on the accuracy of phylogenetic analyses. However, phylogenetic analyses of few taxa (but each represented by many characters) can be subject to strong systematic biases, which in turn produce high measures of repeatability (such as bootstrap proportions) in support of incorrect or misleading phylogenetic results. Thus, it is important for phylogeneticists to consider both the sampling of taxa, as well as the sampling of characters, in designing phylogenetic studies. Taxon sampling also improves estimates of evolutionary parameters derived from phylogenetic trees, and is thus important for improved applications of phylogenetic analyses. Analysis of sensitivity to taxon inclusion, the possible effects of long-branch attraction, and sensitivity of parameter estimation for model-based methods should be a part of any careful and thorough phylogenetic analysis. Furthermore, recent improvements in phylogenetic algorithms and in computational power have removed many constraints on analyzing large, thoroughly sampled data sets. Thorough taxon sampling is thus one of the most practical ways to improve the accuracy of phylogenetic estimates, as well as the accuracy of biological inferences that are based on these phylogenetic trees.
    • Bai-Lin HAO, Lei GAO
      2008, 46 (3): 258–262
      The Composition Vector Tree (CVTree) is a parameter-free and alignment-free method to infer pro-karyotic phylogeny from their complete genomes. It is distinct from the traditional 16S rRNA analysis in both the input data and the methodology. The prokaryotic phylogenetic trees constructed by using the CVTree method agree well with the Bergey’s taxonomy in all major groupings and fine branching patterns. Thus, combined use of the CVTree approach and the 16S rRNA analysis may provide an objective and reliable reconstruction of the prokaryotic branch of the Tree of Life.
    • Sandra L. BALDAUF*
      2008, 46 (3): 263–273

      Our understanding of eukaryote biology is dominated by the study of land plants, animals and fungi. However, these are only three isolated fragments of the full diversity of extant eukaryotes. The majority of eukaryotes, in terms of major taxa and probably also sheer numbers of cells, consists of exclusively or predominantly unicellular lineages. A surprising number of these lineages are poorly characterized. Nonetheless, they are fundamental to our understanding of eukaryote biology and the underlying forces that shaped it. This article consists of an overview of the current state of our understanding of the eukaryote tree. This includes the identity of the major groups of eukaryotes, some of their important, defining or simply interesting features and the proposed relationships of these groups to each other.

    • Henner BRINKMANN; Herve PHILIPPE
      2008, 46 (3): 274–286
      Phylogenomics, the inference of phylogenetic trees using genome-scale data, is becoming the rule for resolving difficult parts of the tree of life. Its promise resides in the large amount of information available, which should eliminate stochastic error. However, systematic error, which is due to limitations of reconstruction methods, is becoming more apparent. We will illustrate, using animal phylogeny as a case study, the three most efficient approaches to avoid the pitfalls of phylogenomics: (1) using a dense taxon sampling, (2) using probabilistic methods with complex models of sequence evolution that more accurately detect multiple substitutions, and (3) removing the fastest evolving part of the data (e.g., species and positions). The analysis of a dataset of 55 animal species and 102 proteins (25712 amino acid positions) shows that standard site-homogeneous model inference is sensitive to long-branch attraction artifact, whereas the site-heterogeneous CAT model is less so. The latter model correctly locates three very fast evolving species, the appendicularian tunicate Oikopleura, the acoel Convoluta and the myxozoan Buddenbrockia. Overall, the resulting tree is in excellent agreement with the new animal phylogeny, confirming that “simple” organisms like platyhelminths and nematodes are not necessarily of basal emergence. This further emphasizes the importance of secondary simplification in animals, and for organismal evolution in general. Decontaminated thianthrene disproportion. Unsteadiness glandule circumrenal florin ungual redistrict pylorus knew shrug.
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    • Yin-Long QIU
      2008, 46 (3): 287–306
      Charophytic algae and land plants together make up a monophyletic group, streptophytes, which represents one of the main lineages of multicellular eukaryotes and has contributed greatly to change of the environment on earth in the Phanerozoic Eon. Significant progress has been made to understand phylogenetic relationships among members of this group by phylogenetic studies of morphological and molecular data over the last twenty-five years. Mesostigma viride is now regarded as among the earliest diverging unicellular organisms in streptophytes. Characeae are the sister group to land plants. Liverworts represent the first diverging lineage of land plants. Hornworts and lycophytes are extant representatives of bryophytes and vascular plants, respectively, when early land plants changed from gametophyte to sporophyte as the dominant generation in the life cycle. Equisetum, Psilotaceae, and ferns constitute the monophyletic group of monilophytes, which are sister to seed plants. Gnetales are related to conifers, not to angiosperms as previously thought. Amborella, Nymphaeales, Hydatellaceae, Illiciales, Trimeniaceae, and Austrobaileya represent the earliest diverging lineages of extant angiosperms. These phylogenetic results, together with recent progress on elucidating genetic and developmental aspects of the plant life cycle, multicellularity, and gravitropism, will facilitate evolutionary developmental studies of these key traits, which will help us to gain mechanistic understanding on how plants adapted to environmental challenges when they colonized the land during one of the major transitions in evolution of life.
    • John J. WIENS*; Daniel S. MOEN
      2008, 46 (3): 307–314
      The effect of missing data on phylogenetic methods is a potentially important issue in our attempts to reconstruct the Tree of Life. If missing data are truly problematic, then it may be unwise to include species in an analysis that lack data for some characters (incomplete taxa) or to include characters that lack data for some species. Given the difficulty of obtaining data from all characters for all taxa (e.g., fossils), missing data might seriously impede efforts to reconstruct a comprehensive phylogeny that includes all species. Fortunately, recent simulations and empirical analyses suggest that missing data cells are not themselves problematic, and that incomplete taxa can be accurately placed as long as the overall number of characters in the analysis is large. However, these studies have so far only been conducted on parsimony, likelihood, and neighbor-joining methods. Although Bayesian phylogenetic methods have become widely used in recent years, the effects of missing data on Bayesian analysis have not been adequately studied. Here, we conduct simulations to test whether Bayesian analyses can accurately place incomplete taxa despite extensive missing data. In agreement with previous studies of other methods, we find that Bayesian analyses can accurately reconstruct the position of highly incomplete taxa (i.e., 95% missing data), as long as the overall number of characters in the analysis is large. These results suggest that highly incomplete taxa can be safely included in many Bayesian phylogenetic analyses.
    • Xing GAO, Yu-Ping ZHU, Bao-Cheng WU, Ya-Mei ZHAO, Jian-Qun CHEN, Yue-Yu HANG
      2008, 46 (3): 315–321
      Seventeen species, one subspecies and one variety of Dioscorea sect. Stenophora Uline were investigated for their phylogenetic relationships based on a sequence analysis of chloroplast matK and rbcL genes and trnL-F intergenic spacer by maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood methods. The results showed that: (a) sect. Stenophora was a strongly supported monophyletic group; (b) D. rockii, D. membranacea, D. banzhuana, and D. simulans formed a moderately supported monophyletic group, and D. prazeri was weakly supported to be sister to this group; (c) D. althaeoides and D. nipponica ssp. nipponica formed a moderately supported clade, and D. nipponica ssp. rosthornii was not a member of this clade; (d) D. zingiberensis and D. sinoparviflora showed a moderate to strong sister relationship; and (e) D. collettii var. hypoglauca and D. collettii var. collettii were sister to each other, but with only weak support.
    • Jun WEN, Scott T. BERGGREN, Chung-Hee LEE, Stefanie ICKERT-BOND, Ting-Shuang YI, Ki-Oug YOO, Lei XIE, Joey SHAW, Dan POTTER
      2008, 46 (3): 322–332
      The nuclear ribosomal ITS region and the chloroplast trnL-trnF (trnLF) intergenic region were sequenced for 45 accessions of Paranephelius and six accessions of Pseudonoseris, the two genera of the subtribe Paranepheliinae (Liabeae, Asteraceae) distributed in the alpine regions of the Andes. This data set was used to estimate relationships between these genera and within each genus to aid in evaluating morphological variation and classification. Our results with both ITS and trnLF markers support the monophyly of subtribe Paranepheliinae, and place Pseudonoseris discolor as the first diverged taxon sister to the clade containing Paranephelius. Pseudonoseris szyszylowiczii exhibited intraspecific divergence supporting intergeneric hybridization between Pseudonoseris and Paranephelius. Within Paranephelius, genetic divergence is low and not adequate to fully resolve phylogenetic relationships at the species level, but two genetically and morphologically recognizable groups were revealed by the ITS data. Several accessions possessing multiple ITS sequences represent putative hybrids between the two groups. These putative hybrids have caused some taxonomic confusion and difficulties in establishing species boundaries in Paranephelius. The divergence time estimates based on ITS sequences indi-cated that the stem of subtribe Paranepheliinae dates to 13 million years ago, but the diversification of the crown clade of the extant members began in the early Pleistocene or late Pliocene, perhaps associated with the uplift of the Andes and the climatic changes of global cooling.
    • Jianhua LI
      2008, 46 (3): 333–340
      Coryloideae consists of four genera: Corylus, Ostryopsis, Carpinus, and Ostrya. While both molecular and non-molecular data support the close relationship of Carpinus and Ostrya, the monophyly of the two genera has remained controversial. In this study, sequences of the nuclear nitrate reductase (Nia) were used to test the naturalness of the two genera. Ostrya species form a robust clade, supporting the monophyly of the genus. The clade, however, is located between Carpinus cordata and the remaining species of Carpinus, indicating that Carpinus is paraphyletic, and Ostrya has evolved from within Carpinus. Within Carpinus, section Distegocarpus is polyphyletic, whereas section Carpinus is a clade where subsections Polyneurae and Carpinus are more closely related to each other than either is to subsection Monbeigianae.
    • Jianhua LI
      2008, 46 (3): 341–348
      Phylogenetics of Chilopsis and Catalpa (Bignoniaceae) was elucidated based on sequences of chloroplast ndhF and the nrDNA ITS region. In Bignoniaceae, Chilopsis and Catalpa are most closely related as sister genera. Our data supported section Macrocatalpa of the West Indies and section Catalpa of eastern Asian and North American continents. Within section Catalpa, Catalpa ovata of eastern Asia form a clade with North American species, C. speciosa and C. bignonioides, while the other eastern Asian species comprise a clade where C. duclouxii is sister to the clade of C. bungei and C. fargesii. The Caribbean species of Catalpa diverged early from the continental species. More studies are needed to test whether the phylogenetic pattern is common in eastern Asian-North American disjunct genera with species in the West Indies.
    • 2008, 46 (3): 349–374
      This study compares results on reconstructing the ancestral state of characters and ancestral areas of distribution in Cornaceae to gain insights into the impact of using different analytical methods. Ancestral character state reconstructions were compared among three methods (parsimony, maximum likelihood, and stochastic character mapping) using MESQUITE and a full Bayesian method in BAYESTRAITS and inferences of ancestral area distribution were compared between the parsimony-based dispersal-vicariance analysis (DIVA) and a newly developed maximum likelihood (ML) method. Results indicated that among the six inflorescence and fruit char-acters examined, “perfect” binary characters (no homoplasy, no polymorphism within terminals, and no missing data) are little affected by choice of method, while homoplasious characters and missing data are sensitive to methods used. Ancestral areas at deep nodes of the phylogeny are substantially different between DIVA and ML and strikingly different between analyses including and excluding fossils at three deepest nodes. These results, while raising caution in making conclusions on trait evolution and historical biogeography using conventional methods, demonstrate a limitation in our current understanding of character evolution and biogeography. The biogeographic history favored by the ML analyses including fossils suggested the origin and early radiation of Cornus likely occurred in the late Cretaceous and earliest Tertiary in Europe and intercontinental disjunctions in three lineages involved movements across the North Atlantic Land Bridge (BLB) in the early and mid Tertiary. This result is congruent with the role of NALB for post-Eocene migration and in connecting tropical floras in North America and Africa, and in eastern Asia and South America. However, alternative hypotheses with an origin in eastern Asia and early Trans-Beringia migrations of the genus cannot be ruled out.
    • Jun WEN, Scott T. BERGGREN, Chung-Hee LEE, Stefanie ICKERT-BOND, Ting-Shuang YI, Ki-Oug YOO, Lei XIE, Joey SHAW, Dan POTTER
      2008, 46 (3): 375–390
      The nuclear ribosomal ITS region and the chloroplast trnL-trnF (trnLF) intergenic region were sequenced for 45 accessions of Paranephelius and six accessions of Pseudonoseris, the two genera of the subtribe Paranepheliinae (Liabeae, Asteraceae) distributed in the alpine regions of the Andes. This data set was used to estimate relationships between these genera and within each genus to aid in evaluating morphological variation and classification. Our results with both ITS and trnLF markers support the monophyly of subtribe Paranepheliinae, and place Pseudonoseris discolor as the first diverged taxon sister to the clade containing Paranephelius. Pseudonoseris szyszylowiczii exhibited intraspecific divergence supporting intergeneric hybridization between Pseudonoseris and Paranephelius. Within Paranephelius, genetic divergence is low and not adequate to fully resolve phylogenetic relationships at the species level, but two genetically and morphologically recognizable groups were revealed by the ITS data. Several accessions possessing multiple ITS sequences represent putative hybrids between the two groups. These putative hybrids have caused some taxonomic confusion and difficulties in establishing species boundaries in Paranephelius. The divergence time estimates based on ITS sequences indi-cated that the stem of subtribe Paranepheliinae dates to 13 million years ago, but the diversification of the crown clade of the extant members began in the early Pleistocene or late Pliocene, perhaps associated with the uplift of the Andes and the climatic changes of global cooling.
    • Suo QIU, Ren-Chao ZHOU, Yun-Qin LI, Sonjai HAVANOND, Chanop JAENGJAI, Su-Hua SHI
      2008, 46 (3): 391–395
      Interspecific hybridization has been frequently observed in the mangrove genus Sonneratia. However, no natural hybridization has been reported between Sonneratia alba and S. griffithii to date, despite their overlapping distribution in the coast of Andaman Sea. In this study, cysteine proteinase inhibitor gene (cpi) from the nuclear genome, and two intergenic spacers (trnL-trnF and trnV-trnM) from the chloroplast genome, were sequenced to determine whether natural hybridization took place between the two species. Our results revealed two distinct types of cpi sequences from the putative hybrid matching those acquired from S. griffithii and S. alba, respectively. Sequencing of the chloroplast trnL-trnF and trnV-trnM regions showed that S. alba differed from S. griffithii by one nucleotide in each region, and the putative hybrid had the identical sequences with S. griffithii. Molecular data demonstrated clearly that there indeed existed natural hybridization between S. alba and S. grif-fithii, and that S. griffithii was the maternal parent in this hybridization event.
    • Claire M. LORTS, Trevor BRIGGEMAN, Tao SANG
      2008, 46 (3): 396–404
      Success of flowering plants is greatly dependent on effective seed dispersal. Specific fruit types aid different mechanisms of seed dispersal. However, little is known about what evolutionary forces have driven the diversification of fruit types and whether there were phylogenetic constraints on fruit evolution among angio-sperm lineages. To address these questions, we first surveyed the orders and families of angiosperms for fruit types and found no clear association between fruit types and major angiosperm lineages, suggesting there was little phylogenetic constraint on fruit evolution at this level. We then surveyed fruit types found in two contrasting habitats: an open habitat including the Indian desert and North American plains and prairies, and a closed forest habitat of Australian tropical forest. The majority of genera in the survey of tropical forests in Australia were fleshy fruit trees, whereas the majority of genera in the survey of prairies and plains in central North America were herbs with capsules and achenes. Both capsules and achenes are frequently dispersed by wind in the open, arid habitat, whereas fleshy fruits are generally dispersed by animals. Since desert and plains tend to provide continuous wind to aid dispersal and there are more abundant mammal and bird dispersers in the closed forest, this survey suggests that fruit evolution was driven at least in part by dispersal agents abundant in particular habitats.
    • Alexandra SURCEL, Xiaofan ZHOU, Li QUAN, Hong MA
      2008, 46 (3): 405–423
      Members of the Structural Maintenance of Chromosome (SMC) family have long been of interest to molecular and evolutionary biologists for their role in chromosome structural dynamics, particularly sister chromatid cohesion, condensation, and DNA repair. SMC and related proteins are found in all major groups of living organisms and share a common structure of conserved N and C globular domains separated from the conserved hinge domain by long coiled-coil regions. In eukaryotes there are six paralogous proteins that form three het-erodimeric pairs, whereas in prokaryotes there is only one SMC protein that homodimerizes. From recently com-pleted genome sequences, we have identified SMC genes from 34 eukaryotes that have not been described in previous reports. Our phylogenetic analysis of these and previously identified SMC genes supports an origin for the vertebrate meiotic SMC1 in the most recent common ancestor since the divergence from invertebrate animals. Additionally, we have identified duplicate copies due to segmental duplications for some of the SMC paralogs in plants and yeast, mainly SMC2 and SMC6, and detected evidence that duplicates of other paralogs were lost, suggesting differential evolution for these genes. Our analysis indicates that the SMC paralogs have been stably maintained at very low copy numbers, even after segmental (genome-wide) duplications. It is possible that such low copy numbers might be selected during eukaryotic evolution, although other possibilities are not ruled out.
    • Richard L. MAYDEN, Kevin L. TANG, Robert M. WOOD, Wei-Jen CHEN, Mary K. AGNEW, Kevin W. CONWAY, Lei YANG, Andrew M. SIMONS, Henry L. BART, Phillip M.HARRIS, Junbing LI, Xuzhen WANG, Kenji SAITOH, Shunping HE, Huanzhang LIU, Yiyu CHEN, Mutsumi NISHIDA, Masaki MIYA
      2008, 46 (3): 424–438
      The phylogenetic relationships of species are fundamental to any biological investigation, including all evolutionary studies. Accurate inferences of sister group relationships provide the researcher with an historical framework within which the attributes or geographic origin of species (or supraspecific groups) evolved. Taken out of this phylogenetic context, interpretations of evolutionary processes or origins, geographic distributions, or speciation rates and mechanisms, are subject to nothing less than a biological experiment without controls. Cypriniformes is the most diverse clade of freshwater fishes with estimates of diversity of nearly 3,500 species. These fishes display an amazing array of morphological, ecological, behavioral, and geographic diversity and offer a tremendous opportunity to enhance our understanding of the biotic and abiotic factors associated with diversification and adaptation to environments. Given the nearly global distribution of these fishes, they serve as an important model group for a plethora of biological investigations, including indicator species for future cli-matic changes. The occurrence of the zebrafish, Danio rerio, in this order makes this clade a critical component in understanding and predicting the relationship between mutagenesis and phenotypic expressions in vertebrates, including humans. With the tremendous diversity in Cypriniformes, our understanding of their phylogenetic relationships has not proceeded at an acceptable rate, despite a plethora of morphological and more recent mo-lecular studies. Most studies are pre-Hennigian in origin or include relatively small numbers of taxa. Given that analyses of small numbers of taxa for molecular characters can be compromised by peculiarities of long-branch attraction and nodal-density effect, it is critical that significant progress in our understanding of the relationships of these important fishes occurs with increasing sampling of species to mitigate these potential problems. The recent Cypriniformes Tree of Life initiative is an effort to achieve this goal with morphological and molecular (mitochondrial and nuclear) data. In this early synthesis of our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships of these fishes, all types of data have contributed historically to improving our understanding, but not all analyses are complementary in taxon sampling, thus precluding direct understanding of the impact of taxon sampling on achieving accurate phylogenetic inferences. However, recent molecular studies do provide some insight and in some instances taxon sampling can be implicated as a variable that can influence sister group relationships. Other instances may also exist but without inclusion of more taxa for both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, one cannot distinguish between inferences being dictated by taxon sampling or the origins of the molecular data.
Song Ge
Jun Wen
Impact Factor
JCR 2021 IF ranking: 63/238 (Plant Sciences, top 26.26%, Q2 quartile)
Journal Abbreviation: J Syst Evol
ISSN: 1674-4918 (Print)
1759-6831 (Online)
CN: 11-5779/Q
Frequency: Bi-monthly




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