Genome evolution and systematics of the Paenungulata (Afrotheria, Mammalia)

Pardini, Amanda T. (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2006-12)

Dissertation (PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Increases in taxonomic sampling and the numbers and types of markers used in phylogenetic studies have resulted in a marked improvement in the interpretation of systematic relationships within Eutheria. However, relationships within several clades, including Paenungulata (Hyracoidea, Sirenia, Proboscidea), remain unresolved. Here the combination of i) a rapid radiation and ii) a deep divergence have resulted in limited phylogenetic signal available for analysis. Specifically i) a short internode separating successive branching events reduces the time available for changes to occur, while ii) the longer the time since divergence, the greater the opportunity for signal to be negatively affected by homoplasy. This is evident in both molecular and morphological data where an overall consensus on paenungulate relationships is lacking. Morphological analysis of anatomical and fossil evidence favours the association of Sirenia (S) and Proboscidea (P) (Tethytheria) to the exclusion of Hyracoidea (H); further, support for uniting these three taxa as Paenungulata is contentious. In contrast, molecular data provide strong support for Paenungulata but intra-ordinal relationships are ambiguous. Although results from mitochondrial DNA sequence data favour Tethytheria, there is no consensus of support for this clade from nuclear DNA. Nuclear DNA is typified by node instability but favours H+P in the largest concatenation of sequences. Due to the expected increased effect from homoplasy and consequently the increased likelihood for misleading signal, it is unclear which result is most likely to represent the “true” tree. An analysis of available and added intron sequences to characterise signal heterogeneity among nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA partitions indicated that the phylogenetic utility of partitions varies considerably. Subpartitioning of the data according to similar evolutionary processes/characteristics (e. g., mtDNA vs. nDNA and codon position) revealed new insights into the signal structure of the data set; specifically i) that nuclear DNA first codon positions, and to a lesser degree second codon sites, provide convincing support for H+P, and ii) that support for S+P by faster evolving sites within mtDNA suggests that this may be the result of misleading signal. If H+P represents the “true tree”, then support for this clade indicates that phylogenetic signal has been reduced over time as a result of multiple hits, which explains the presence of (hidden) support in slower evolving sites where homoplasy is less likely to occur, in contrast to faster evolving sites where no support for H+P was observed. In an attempt to provide further resolution from an alternative perspective to that possible with DNA sequence data, chromosomal rearrangements were identified among the three paenungulate lineages. Using comparative chromosome painting, unique changes within each order and specific to Paenungulata were characterised, however, intra-ordinal synapomorphies were not recovered. Although this may suggest a hard polytomy, the slow to moderate rate of evolution estimated from the data is likely not sufficient relative to the rapid radiation associated with the paenungulate node. Further examination of chromosomal rearrangements at a higher level of resolution may yet reveal informative changes.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: ‘n Toename in die aantal taksonomiese monsters sowel as die aantal en soort merkers wat in filogenetiese studies gebruik word, het tot ‘n merkbare verbetering in die vertolking van sistematiese verwantskappe binne die Eutheria gelei. Desondanks bly ‘n aantal klades (stamlyne), met inbegrip van Paenungulata (Hyracoidea, Sirenia, Proboscidea), steeds onopgelos. By laasgenoemde het die kombinasie van i) ‘n vinnige radiasie en ii) ‘n diep divergensie die filogenetiese sein wat vir analise beskikbaar is, beperk. Meer spesifiek sal i) opeenvolgende vertakkings wat deur kort internodusse geskei word die beskikbare tyd waartydens veranderings kan intree, verminder, terwyl ii) ‘n toename in tydsverloop sedert divergensie die kans dat die sein deur homoplasie nadelig beïnvloed sal word, vergroot. Dit word in sowel molekulêre en morfologiese data, waar ‘n oorhoofse konsensus t.o.v. verwantskappe van Paenungulata ontbreek, waargeneem. Morfologiese analise van anatomiese en fossielbewyse ondersteun die samevoeging van Sirenia (S) en Proboscidea (P) (Tethytheria) ten koste van Hyracoidea (H). Ondersteuning vir die samevoeging van dié drie taksa as Paenungulata is egter aanvegbaar. In teenstelling hiermee word Paenungulata sterk deur molekulêre data ondersteun, al bly die verwantstkappe op intra-orde vlak, steeds onduidelik. Alhoewel die resultate van mitochondriale DNA op Tethytheria dui, word die klade nie deur data van kern-DNA ondersteun nie. Kern-DNA word gekarakteriseer deur node instabiliteit maar verkies H+P in die grootste samevoeging van geen volgordes. Na aanleiding van die verwagte toename in die effek van homoplasie en die gevolglik groter kans op ‘n misleidende sein, is dit nie duidelik watter van die resultate die meer korrekte filogenetiese stamboom verteenwoordig nie. Analise van beskikbare en nuut toegevoegde intron-volgordes om sein-heterogeniteit tussen kern- en mitochondriale DNA verdelings te karakteriseer, toon dat die filogenetiese nut van verdelings beduidend verskil. Onderverdeling van die data op grond van soortgelyke evolusionêre prosesse/karaktereienskappe (bv. mtDNA vs. nDNA, en kodonposisie) het na nuwe insigte in die seinstruktuur van die datastel gelei. Meer spesifiek dat i) kern-DNA se eerste kodonposisies, en tot ‘n mindere mate die tweede kodonposisies, H+P oortuigend ondersteun en ii) dat ondersteuning vir S+P deur posisies binne mtDNA wat vinnig verander, op ‘n misleidende sein mag dui. As H+P die korrekte stamboom verteenwoordig dui ondersteuning vir die klade op ‘n filogenetiese sein wat met verloop van tyd as gevolg van veelvuldige seinvoorkomste verklein het. Dit verklaar die aanwesigheid van versluierde ondersteuning in stadig-veranderende posisies waar die neiging tot homoplasie klein is, in teenstelling met posisies wat vinniger verander en waar ondersteuning vir H+P nie waargeneem is nie. Op soek na verhoogde resolusie vanuit ‘n ander perspektief as DNA-volgordebepaling, is chromosomale herrangskikkings in die drie stamlyne van Paenungulata nagevors. Met behulp van vergelykende chromosoomkleuring is unieke veranderings binne elke orde en spesifiek binne Paenungulata gekarakteriseer, maar geen sinapomorfe kenmerke is op die intra-orde vlak gevind nie. Alhoewel dit op ‘n onopgeloste politomie mag dui, is die stadige tot matige evolusietempo wat van die data afgelei word, relatief tot die vinnige radiasie wat met die Paenungulata-nodus geassosieer word, waarskynlik onvoldoende vir ‘n oplossing. Verdere navorsing oor chromosomale herrangskikkings met ‘n hoër resolusievlak mag addisionele insiggewende veranderings aantoon.

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