Primate molecular phylogenetics in a genomic era

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2013 Feb;66(2):565-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.08.021. Epub 2012 Aug 30.


A primary objective of molecular phylogenetics is to use molecular data to elucidate the evolutionary history of living organisms. Dr. Morris Goodman founded the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution as a forum where scientists could further our knowledge about the tree of life, and he recognized that the inference of species trees is a first and fundamental step to addressing many important evolutionary questions. In particular, Dr. Goodman was interested in obtaining a complete picture of the primate species tree in order to provide an evolutionary context for the study of human adaptations. A number of recent studies use multi-locus datasets to infer well-resolved and well-supported primate phylogenetic trees using consensus approaches (e.g., supermatrices). It is therefore tempting to assume that we have a complete picture of the primate tree, especially above the species level. However, recent theoretical and empirical work in the field of molecular phylogenetics demonstrates that consensus methods might provide a false sense of support at certain nodes. In this brief review we discuss the current state of primate molecular phylogenetics and highlight the importance of exploring the use of coalescent-based analyses that have the potential to better utilize information contained in multi-locus data.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Genomics / trends
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing / methods
  • Phylogeny*
  • Primates / classification
  • Primates / genetics*