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Title: Phylogenomic conflict coincides with rapid morphological innovation

Evolutionary biologists have long been fascinated with the episodes of rapid phenotypic innovation that underlie the emergence of major lineages. Although our understanding of the environmental and ecological contexts of such episodes has steadily increased, it has remained unclear how population processes contribute to emergent macroevolutionary patterns. One insight gleaned from phylogenomics is that gene-tree conflict, frequently caused by population-level processes, is often rampant during the origin of major lineages. With the understanding that phylogenomic conflict is often driven by complex population processes, we hypothesized that there may be a direct correspondence between instances of high conflict and elevated rates of phenotypic innovation if both patterns result from the same processes. We evaluated this hypothesis in six clades spanning vertebrates and plants. We found that the most conflict-rich regions of these six clades also tended to experience the highest rates of phenotypic innovation, suggesting that population processes shaping both phenotypic and genomic evolution may leave signatures at deep timescales. Closer examination of the biological significance of phylogenomic conflict may yield improved connections between micro- and macroevolution and increase our understanding of the processes that shape the origin of major lineages across the Tree of Life.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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Article No. e2023058118
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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National Science Foundation
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