Exon-based phylogenomics strengthens the phylogeny of Neotropical cichlids and identifies remaining conflicting clades (Cichliformes: Cichlidae: Cichlinae)
Abstract The phenotypic, geographic, and species diversity of cichlid fishes have made them a group of great interest for studying evolutionary processes. Here we present a targeted-exon next-generation sequencing approach for investigating the evolutionary relationships of cichlid fishes (Cichlidae), with focus on the Neotropical subfamily Cichlinae using a set of 923 primarily single-copy exons designed through mining of the Nile tilapia ( Oreochromis niloticus ) genome. Sequence capture and assembly were robust, leading to a complete dataset of 415 exons for 139 species (147 terminals) that consisted of 128 Neotropical species, six African taxa, and five Indo-Malagasy cichlids. Gene and species trees were calculated using alternative partitioning schemes and reconstruction methods. In general, all methods yielded similar topologies to previously hypothesized relationships within the Cichlinae and clarified several relationships that were previously poorly supported or in conflict. Additional work will be needed to fully resolve all aspects of Cichlinae phylogeny. Overall, this approach yielded a well-resolved phylogeny of Neotropical cichlids that will be of utility for future assessments of the evolutionary and ecological processes within this diverse group of fishes. Furthermore, the general methodology employed here of exon targeting and capture should be applicable to any group of organisms with the availability of a reference genome. Highlights 415 exons captured for 139 species of predominantly Neotropical cichlids. Long-established interrelationships of major lineages supported. Relationships among Geophagini clades clarified by species tree analyses. Conflicting relationships among caquetaines, amphilophines, and herichthyines. Graphical abstract [DISPLAY OMISSION]
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