Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Histone H3 and U2 snRNA DNA sequences and arthropod molecular evolution

D. J. Colgan, A. McLauchlan, G. D. F. Wilson, S. P. Livingston, G. D. Edgecombe, J. Macaranas, G. Cassis and M. R. Gray

Australian Journal of Zoology 46(5) 419 - 437
Published: 1998


The range of DNA sequences used to study the interrelationships of the major arthropod groups (chelicerates, myriapods, hexapods and crustaceans) is limited. Here we investigate the value of two genes not previously employed in arthropod phylogenetics. Histone H3 data were collected for 31 species and small nuclear ribonucleic acid U2 data for 29 species. The sequences provided a total of 460 sites and 192 parsimony-informative characters. H3 analyses showed substantial codon usage bias, but had a low consistency index (0.26). Consistency indices were higher for the U2 data (0.49), suggesting that the class of snRNAs may provide several phylogenetically useful genes.

The present data are not by themselves sufficient to clarify major arthropod group relationships. Partitioned data for H3 and U2 are incongruent according to Incongruence Length Difference tests. Although the most parsimonious trees, based on combined analyses of all taxa, differ substantially from morphology-based trees, anomalous groupings are weakly supported with only one exception. The trees uphold monophyly of Onychophora, Branchiopoda, and Malacostraca (rather than the rival Phyllopoda). Cladistic analyses constraining the monophyly of morphologically defined classes do not significantly distinguish between the main rival hypotheses of major clade relationships. Combined (‘spliced’) analysis of both genes improves topological congruence with morphological groupings relative to that of either partition. Character congruence between H3, U2, and morphology is increased by downweighting (but not excluding) transitions and third codons. Analyses of four-taxon statements using PHYLTEST found significant support for the basal position of the Crustacea among the euarthropods. This support may be due to the similarity of chelicerates, myriapods and hexapods in percentage GC content.

© CSIRO 1998

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