Gene trees, species trees, and morphology converge on a similar phylogeny of living gars (Actinopterygii: Holostei: Lepisosteidae), an ancient clade of ray-finned fishes

Jeremy J. Wright, Solomon R. David, Thomas J. Near

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Extant gars represent the remaining members of a formerly diverse assemblage of ancient ray-finned fishes and have been the subject of multiple phylogenetic analyses using morphological data. Here, we present the first hypothesis of phylogenetic relationships among living gar species based on molecular data, through the examination of gene tree heterogeneity and coalescent species tree analyses of a portion of one mitochondrial (COI) and seven nuclear (ENC1, myh6, plagl2, S7 ribosomal protein intron 1, sreb2, tbr1, and zic1) genes. Individual gene trees displayed varying degrees of resolution with regards to species-level relationships, and the gene trees inferred from COI and the S7 intron were the only two that were completely resolved. Coalescent species tree analyses of nuclear genes resulted in a well-resolved and strongly supported phylogenetic tree of living gar species, for which Bayesian posterior node support was further improved by the inclusion of the mitochondrial gene. Species-level relationships among gars inferred from our molecular data set were highly congruent with previously published morphological phylogenies, with the exception of the placement of two species, Lepisosteus osseus and L. platostomus. Re-examination of the character coding used by previous authors provided partial resolution of this topological discordance, resulting in broad concordance in the phylogenies inferred from individual genes, the coalescent species tree analysis, and morphology. The completely resolved phylogeny inferred from the molecular data set with strong Bayesian posterior support at all nodes provided insights into the potential for introgressive hybridization and patterns of allopatric speciation in the evolutionary history of living gars, as well as a solid foundation for future examinations of functional diversification and evolutionary stasis in a "living fossil" lineage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)848-856
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Volume63
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Coalescence
  • Fishes
  • Gar
  • Lepisosteidae
  • Living fossil
  • Phylogeny

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