Widhelm T.J., F. Grewe, J. P. Huang, J. Mercado, B. Goffinet, R. Lücking, I. Schmitt, B. Moncada, R. Mason-Gamer & H. T. Lumbsch. 2019. Multiple historical processes obscure phylogenetic relationships in a taxonomically difficult group (Lobariaceae, Ascomycota). Scientific Reports 9: 8968. pdf
Abstract reads: In the age of next-generation sequencing, the number of loci available for phylogenetic analyses has increased by orders of magnitude. But despite this dramatic increase in the amount of data, some phylogenomic studies have revealed rampant gene-tree discordance that can be caused by many historical processes, such as rapid diversification, gene duplication, or reticulate evolution. We used a target enrichment approach to sample 400 single-copy nuclear genes and estimate the phylogenetic relationships of 13 genera in the lichen-forming family Lobariaceae to address the effect of data type (nucleotides and amino acids) and phylogenetic reconstruction method (concatenation and species tree approaches). Furthermore, we examined datasets for evidence of historical processes, such as rapid diversification and reticulate evolution. We found incongruence associated with sequence data types (nucleotide vs. amino acid sequences) and with different methods of phylogenetic reconstruction (species tree vs. concatenation). The resulting phylogenetic trees provided evidence for rapid and reticulate evolution based on extremely short branches in the backbone of the phylogenies. The observed rapid and reticulate diversifications may explain conflicts among gene trees and the challenges to resolving evolutionary relationships. Based on divergence times, the diversification at the backbone occurred near the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary (65 Mya) which is consistent with other rapid diversifications in the tree of life. Although some phylogenetic relationships within the Lobariaceae family remain with low support, even with our powerful phylogenomic dataset of up to 376 genes, our use of target-capturing data allowed for the novel exploration of the mechanisms underlying phylogenetic and systematic incongruence.