Sensitivity of Ribosomal RNA Character Sampling in the Phylogeny of Rhabditida

Oleksandr Holovachov, Lauren Camp, Steven A. Nadler

Abstract


Near-full-length 18S and 28S rRNA gene sequences were obtained for 33 nematode species. Datasets were constructed based on secondary structure and progressive multiple alignments, and clades were compared for phylogenies inferred by Bayesian and maximum likelihood methods. Clade comparisons were also made following removal of ambiguously aligned sites as determined using the program ProAlign. Different alignments of these data produced tree topologies that differed, sometimes markedly, when analyzed by the same inference method. With one exception, the same alignment produced an identical tree topology when analyzed by different methods. Removal of ambiguously aligned sites altered the tree topology and also reduced resolution. Nematode clades were sensitive to differences in multiple alignments, and more than doubling the amount of sequence data by addition of 28S rRNA did not fully mitigate this result. Although some individual clades showed substantially higher support when 28S data were combined with 18S data, the combined analysis yielded no statistically significant increases in the number of clades receiving higher support when compared to the 18S data alone. Secondary structure alignment increased accuracy in positional homology assignment and, when used in combination with paired-site substitution models, these structural hypotheses of characters and improved models of character state change yielded high levels of phylogenetic resolution. Phylogenetic results included strong support for inclusion of Daubaylia potomaca within Cephalobidae, whereas the position of Fescia grossa within Tylenchina varied depending on the alignment, and the relationships among Rhabditidae, Diplogastridae, and Bunonematidae were not resolved.

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