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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  2. 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.

  3. Abstract Old, climatically buffered, infertile landscapes (OCBILs) have been hypothesized to harbour an elevated number of persistent plant lineages and are predicted to occur across different parts of the globe, interspersed with other types of landscapes. We tested whether the mean age of a plant community is associated with occurrence on OCBILs, as predicted by climatic stability and poor soil environments. Using digitized occurrence data for seed plants occurring in Australia (7033 species), sub-Saharan Africa (3990 species) and South America (44 482 species), regions that comprise commonly investigated OCBILs (Southwestern Australian Floristic Region, Greater Cape Floristic Region and campos rupestres), and phylogenies pruned to match the species occurrences, we tested for associations between environmental data (current climate, soil composition, elevation and climatic stability) and two novel metrics developed here that capture the age of a community (mean tip length and mean node height). Our results indicate that plant community ages are influenced by a combination of multiple environmental predictors that vary globally; we did not find statistically strong associations between the environments of OCBIL areas and community age, in contrast to the prediction for these landscapes. The Cape Floristic Region was the only OCBIL that showed a significant, although notmore »strong, overlap with old communities.« less
  4. Ruane, Sara (Ed.)
    Abstract Genome-scale data have the potential to clarify phylogenetic relationships across the tree of life but have also revealed extensive gene tree conflict. This seeming paradox, whereby larger data sets both increase statistical confidence and uncover significant discordance, suggests that understanding sources of conflict is important for accurate reconstruction of evolutionary history. We explore this paradox in squamate reptiles, the vertebrate clade comprising lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians. We collected an average of 5103 loci for 91 species of squamates that span higher-level diversity within the clade, which we augmented with publicly available sequences for an additional 17 taxa. Using a locus-by-locus approach, we evaluated support for alternative topologies at 17 contentious nodes in the phylogeny. We identified shared properties of conflicting loci, finding that rate and compositional heterogeneity drives discordance between gene trees and species tree and that conflicting loci rarely overlap across contentious nodes. Finally, by comparing our tests of nodal conflict to previous phylogenomic studies, we confidently resolve 9 of the 17 problematic nodes. We suggest this locus-by-locus and node-by-node approach can build consensus on which topological resolutions remain uncertain in phylogenomic studies of other contentious groups. [Anchored hybrid enrichment (AHE); gene tree conflict; molecular evolution; phylogenomic concordance;more »target capture; ultraconserved elements (UCE).]« less
  5. Abstract Summary

    The ease with which phylogenomic data can be generated has drastically escalated the computational burden for even routine phylogenetic investigations. To address this, we present phyx: a collection of programs written in C ++ to explore, manipulate, analyze and simulate phylogenetic objects (alignments, trees and MCMC logs). Modelled after Unix/GNU/Linux command line tools, individual programs perform a single task and operate on standard I/O streams that can be piped to quickly and easily form complex analytical pipelines. Because of the stream-centric paradigm, memory requirements are minimized (often only a single tree or sequence in memory at any instance), and hence phyx is capable of efficiently processing very large datasets.

    Availability and Implementation

    phyx runs on POSIX-compliant operating systems. Source code, installation instructions, documentation and example files are freely available under the GNU General Public License at

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.