Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are useful markers for phylogenetic studies owing in part to their ubiquity throughout the genome and ease of collection. Restriction site associated DNA sequencing (RADseq) methods are becoming increasingly popular for SNP data collection, but an assessment of the best practises for using these data in phylogenetics is lacking. We use computer simulations, and new double digest RADseq (ddRADseq) data for the lizard family Phrynosomatidae, to investigate the accuracy of RAD loci for phylogenetic inference. We compare the two primary ways RAD loci are used during phylogenetic analysis, including the analysis of full sequences (i.e., SNPs together with invariant sites), or the analysis of SNPs on their own after excluding invariant sites. We find that using full sequences rather than just SNPs is preferable from the perspectives of branch length and topological accuracy, but not of computational time. We introduce two new acquisition bias corrections for dealing with alignments composed exclusively of SNPs, a conditional likelihood method and a reconstituted DNA approach. The conditional likelihood method conditions on the presence of variable characters only (the number of invariant sites that are unsampled but known to exist is not considered), while the reconstituted DNA approach requires the user to specify the exact number of unsampled invariant sites prior to the analysis. Under simulation, branch length biases increase with the amount of missing data for both acquisition bias correction methods, but branch length accuracy is much improved in the reconstituted DNA approach compared to the conditional likelihood approach. Phylogenetic analyses of the empirical data using concatenation or a coalescent-based species tree approach provide strong support for many of the accepted relationships among phrynosomatid lizards, suggesting that RAD loci contain useful phylogenetic signal across a range of divergence times despite the presence of missing data. Phylogenetic analysis of RAD loci requires careful attention to model assumptions, especially if downstream analyses depend on branch lengths.
Keywords: Conditional likelihood; Phrynosoma; Phrynosomatidae; SVDquartets; ddRADseq; maximum likelihood; reconstituted DNA.
© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press, on behalf of the Society of Systematic Biologists.