Phylogenomics resolves the timing and pattern of insect evolution

Science. 2014 Nov 7;346(6210):763-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1257570. Epub 2014 Nov 6.


Insects are the most speciose group of animals, but the phylogenetic relationships of many major lineages remain unresolved. We inferred the phylogeny of insects from 1478 protein-coding genes. Phylogenomic analyses of nucleotide and amino acid sequences, with site-specific nucleotide or domain-specific amino acid substitution models, produced statistically robust and congruent results resolving previously controversial phylogenetic relations hips. We dated the origin of insects to the Early Ordovician [~479 million years ago (Ma)], of insect flight to the Early Devonian (~406 Ma), of major extant lineages to the Mississippian (~345 Ma), and the major diversification of holometabolous insects to the Early Cretaceous. Our phylogenomic study provides a comprehensive reliable scaffold for future comparative analyses of evolutionary innovations among insects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genetic Code
  • Genome, Insect
  • Genomics
  • Insect Proteins / classification*
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insecta / classification*
  • Insecta / genetics
  • Phylogeny*
  • Time Factors


  • Insect Proteins

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.3C0F1
  • BioProject/PRJNA183205