Phylogenomics resolves the timing and pattern of insect evolution

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Science  07 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6210, pp. 763-767
DOI: 10.1126/science.1257570

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Toward an insect evolution resolution

Insects are the most diverse group of animals, with the largest number of species. However, many of the evolutionary relationships between insect species have been controversial and difficult to resolve. Misof et al. performed a phylogenomic analysis of protein-coding genes from all major insect orders and close relatives, resolving the placement of taxa. The authors used this resolved phylogenetic tree together with fossil analysis to date the origin of insects to ~479 million years ago and to resolve long-controversial subjects in insect phylogeny.

Science, this issue p. 763


Insects are the most speciose group of animals, but the phylogenetic relationships of many major lineages remain unresolved. We inferred the phylogeny of insects from 1478 protein-coding genes. Phylogenomic analyses of nucleotide and amino acid sequences, with site-specific nucleotide or domain-specific amino acid substitution models, produced statistically robust and congruent results resolving previously controversial phylogenetic relations hips. We dated the origin of insects to the Early Ordovician [~479 million years ago (Ma)], of insect flight to the Early Devonian (~406 Ma), of major extant lineages to the Mississippian (~345 Ma), and the major diversification of holometabolous insects to the Early Cretaceous. Our phylogenomic study provides a comprehensive reliable scaffold for future comparative analyses of evolutionary innovations among insects.

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