Muroid rodent phylogenetics: 900-species tree reveals increasing diversification rates

PLoS One. 2017 Aug 16;12(8):e0183070. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0183070. eCollection 2017.

Abstract

We combined new sequence data for more than 300 muroid rodent species with our previously published sequences for up to five nuclear and one mitochondrial genes to generate the most widely and densely sampled hypothesis of evolutionary relationships across Muroidea. An exhaustive screening procedure for publically available sequences was implemented to avoid the propagation of taxonomic errors that are common to supermatrix studies. The combined data set of carefully screened sequences derived from all available sequences on GenBank with our new data resulted in a robust maximum likelihood phylogeny for 900 of the approximately 1,620 muroids. Several regions that were equivocally resolved in previous studies are now more decisively resolved, and we estimated a chronogram using 28 fossil calibrations for the most integrated age and topological estimates to date. The results were used to update muroid classification and highlight questions needing additional data. We also compared the results of multigene supermatrix studies like this one with the principal published supertrees and concluded that the latter are unreliable for any comparative study in muroids. In addition, we explored diversification patterns as an explanation for why muroid rodents represent one of the most species-rich groups of mammals by detecting evidence for increasing net diversification rates through time across the muroid tree. We suggest the observation of increasing rates may be due to a combination of parallel increases in rate across clades and high average extinction rates. Five increased diversification-rate-shifts were inferred, suggesting that multiple, but perhaps not independent, events have led to the remarkable species diversity in the superfamily. Our results provide a phylogenetic framework for comparative studies that is not highly dependent upon the signal from any one gene.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Fossils
  • Phylogeny*
  • Rodentia / classification*
  • Rodentia / genetics*

Grant support

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (https://www.nsf.gov/div/index.jsp?div=DEB) grants DEB-0841447 and DEB-0454673 to SJS. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.