Phylogenomics, the study of phylogenetic relationships among taxa based on their genome sequences, has emerged as the preferred phylogenetic method because of the wealth of phylogenetic information contained in genome sequences. Genome sequencing, however, can be prohibitively expensive, especially for taxa with huge genomes and when many taxa need sequencing. Consequently, the less costly phylotranscriptomics has seen an increased use in recent years. Phylotranscriptomics reconstructs phylogenies using DNA sequences derived from transcriptomes, which are often orders of magnitude smaller than genomes. However, in the absence of corresponding genome sequences, comparative analyses of transcriptomes can be challenging and it is unclear whether phylotranscriptomics is as reliable as phylogenomics. Here, we respectively compare the phylogenomic and phylotranscriptomic trees of 22 mammals and 15 plants that have both sequenced nuclear genomes and publicly available RNA sequencing data from multiple tissues. We found that phylotranscriptomic analysis can be sensitive to orthologous gene identification. When a rigorous method for identifying orthologs is employed, phylogenomic and phylotranscriptomic trees are virtually identical to each other, regardless of the tissue of origin of the transcriptomes and whether the same tissue is used across species. These findings validate phylotranscriptomics, brighten its prospect, and illustrate the criticality of reliable ortholog detection in such practices.
Keywords: evolution; mammals; orthologous genes; phylogenetics; plants.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.