Exploring Conflicts in Whole Genome Phylogenetics: A Case Study within Manakins (Aves: Pipridae)
Some phylogenetic problems remain unresolved even when large amounts of sequence data are analyzed and methods that accommodate processes such as incomplete lineage sorting are employed. In addition to investigating biological sources of phylogenetic incongruence, it is also important to reduce noise in the phylogenomic dataset by using appropriate filtering approach that addresses gene tree estimation errors. We present the results of a case study in manakins, focusing on the very difficult clade comprising the genera Antilophia and Chiroxiphia. Previous studies suggest that Antilophia is nested within Chiroxiphia, though relationships among Antilophia+Chiroxiphia species have been highly unstable. We extracted more than 11,000 loci (ultra-conserved elements and introns) from whole genomes and conducted analyses using concatenation and multi-species coalescent methods. Topologies resulting from analyses using all loci differed depending on the data type and analytical method, with two clades (Antilophia+Chiroxiphia and Manacus+Pipra+Machaeopterus) in the manakin tree showing incongruent results. We hypothesized that gene trees that conflicted with a long coalescent branch (e.g., the branch uniting Antilophia+Chiroxiphia) might be enriched for cases of gene tree estimation error, so we conducted analyses that either constrained those gene trees to include monophyly of Antilophia+Chiroxiphia or excluded these loci. While constraining trees reduced some incongruence, excluding the trees led to completely congruent species trees, regardless of the data type or model of sequence evolution used. We found that a suite of gene metrics (most importantly the number of informative sites and likelihood of intralocus recombination) collectively explained the loci that resulted in non-monophyly of Antilophia+Chiroxiphia. We also found evidence for introgression that may have contributed to the discordant topologies we observe in Antilophia+Chiroxiphia and led to deviations from expectations given the multi-species coalescent model. Our study highlights the importance of identifying factors that can obscure phylogenetic signal when dealing with recalcitrant phylogenetic problems, such as gene tree estimation error, incomplete lineage sorting and reticulation events.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Zhao, M., Kurtis, S. M., White, N. D., Moncrieff, A. E., Leite, R. N., Brumfield, R. T., Braun, E. L., & Kimball, R. T. (2022). Exploring Conflicts in Whole Genome Phylogenetics: A Case Study within Manakins (Aves: Pipridae). Systematic biology https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/syac062