An in silico comparison of protocols for dated phylogenomics

Rupert A. Collins, Tomas Hrbek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


In the age of genome-scaleDNAsequencing, choice of molecular marker arguably remains an important decision in planning a phylogenetic study. Using published genomes from 23 primate species, we make a standardized comparison of four of the most frequently used protocols in phylogenomics, viz., targeted sequence-enrichment using ultraconserved element and exon-capture probes, and restriction-site-associated DNA sequencing (RADseq and ddRADseq). Here, we present a procedure to perform in silico extractions from genomes and create directly comparable data sets for each class of marker. We then compare these data sets in terms of both phylogenetic resolution and ability to consistently and precisely estimate clade ages using fossil-calibrated molecular-clockmodels. Furthermore,wewere also able to directly compare these results to previously published data sets fromSanger-sequenced nuclear exons and mitochondrial genomes under the same analytical conditions. Our results show - although with the exception of the mitochondrial genome data set and the smallest ddRADseq data set - that for uncontroversial nodes all data classes performed equally well, that is they recovered the same well supported topology. However, for one difficult-to-resolve node comprising a rapid diversification, we report well supported but conflicting topologies among themarker classes consistent with the mismodeling of gene tree heterogeneity as demonstrated by species tree analyses of single nucleotide polymorphisms. Likewise, clade age estimates showed consistent discrepancies between data sets under strict and relaxed clock models; for recent nodes, clade ages estimated by nuclear exon data sets were younger than those of the UCE, RADseq and mitochondrial data, but vice versa for the deepest nodes in the primate phylogeny. This observation is explained by temporal differences in phylogenetic informativeness (PI), with the data sets with strong PI peaks toward the present underestimating the deepest node ages. Finally, we conclude by emphasizing that while huge numbers of loci are probably not required for uncontroversial phylogenetic questions - for which practical considerations such as ease of data generation, sharing, and aggregating, therefore become increasingly important - accurately modeling heterogeneous data remains as relevant as ever for the more recalcitrant problems.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbersyx089
Pages (from-to)633-650
Number of pages18
JournalSystematic Biology
Issue number4
Early online date8 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Exoncapture
  • Phylogenomics
  • Primates
  • RADseq
  • UCE


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