Phylogenomic analyses elucidate the evolutionary relationships of bats

Georgia Tsagkogeorga, Joe Parker, Elia Stupka, James A. Cotton, Stephen J. Rossiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Molecular phylogenetics has rapidly established the evolutionary positions of most major mammal groups [1, 2], yet analyses have repeatedly failed to agree on that of bats (order Chiroptera) [3-6]. Moreover, the relationship among the major bat lineages has proven equally contentious, with ongoing disagreements about whether echolocating bats are paraphyletic [7-9] or a true group [10] having profound implications for whether echolocation evolved once or possibly multiple times. By generating new bat genome data and applying model-based phylogenomic analyses designed to accommodate heterogeneous evolutionary processes [4, 11], we show that - contrary to recent suggestions - bats are not closely related to odd-toed ungulates but instead have a more ancient origin as sister group to a large clade of carnivores, ungulates, and cetaceans. Additionally, we provide the first genome-scale support showing that laryngeal echolocating bats are not a true group and that this paraphyly is robust to their position within mammals. We suggest that earlier disagreements in the literature may reflect model misspecification, long-branch artifacts, poor taxonomic coverage, and differences in the phylogenetic markers used. These findings are a timely reminder of the relevance of experimental design and careful statistical analysis as we move into the phylogenomic era.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2262-2267
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume23
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 18 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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