Nov 6, 2018

Phylogenomics of the adaptive radiation of Triturus newts supports gradual ecological niche expansion towards an incrementally aquatic lifestyle

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Ben WielstraH B Shaffer


Understanding the course of eco-morphological evolution in adaptive radiations is challenging as the phylogenetic relationships among the species involved are typically difficult to resolve. Newts of the genus Triturus (marbled and crested newts) are a well-studied case: they exhibit substantial variation in the number of trunk vertebrae (NTV) and a higher NTV corresponds to a longer annual aquatic period. Because the Triturus phylogeny is still unresolved, the evolutionary pathway for NTV and annual aquatic period is unclear. To resolve the phylogeny of Triturus, we generate a c. 6,000 transcriptome-derived marker data set using a custom target enrichment probe set, and conduct phylogenetic analyses including: 1) data concatenation with RAxML, 2) gene tree summary with ASTRAL, and 3) species tree estimation with SNAPP. All analyses consistently result in the same, highly supported topology. Our new phylogenetic hypothesis only requires the minimal number of inferred changes in NTV count to explain the NTV radiation observed today. This suggests that, while diversification in body shape allowed ecological expansion in Triturus to encompass an increasingly aquatic life style, body shape evolution was phylogenetically constrained.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Biological Markers
Biochemical Pathway
Phylogenetic Analysis
Cell Growth
Bone Structure of Spine

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