Soup to tree: the phylogeny of beetles inferred by mitochondrial metagenomics of a Bornean rainforest sample

Crampton-Platt, Alex, Timmermans, Martijn J. T. N. ORCID logoORCID:, Gimmel, Matthew L., Kutty, Sujatha Narayanan, Cockerill, Timothy D., Khen, Chey Vun and Vogler, Alfried P. (2015) Soup to tree: the phylogeny of beetles inferred by mitochondrial metagenomics of a Bornean rainforest sample. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 32 (9) . pp. 2302-2316. ISSN 0737-4038 [Article] (doi:10.1093/molbev/msv111)

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In spite of the growth of molecular ecology, systematics and next-generation sequencing, the discovery and analysis of diversity is not currently integrated with building the tree-of-life. Tropical arthropod ecologists are well placed to accelerate this process if all specimens obtained via masstrapping, many of which will be new species, could be incorporated routinely in phylogeny reconstruction. Here we test a shotgun sequencing approach, whereby mitochondrial genomes are assembled from complex ecological mixtures via mitochondrial metagenomics, and demonstrate how the approach overcomes many of the taxonomic impediments to the study of biodiversity. DNA from
~500 beetle specimens, originating from a single rainforest canopy fogging sample from Borneo, was pooled and shotgun sequenced, followed by de novo assembly of complete and partial mitogenomes for 175 species. The phylogenetic tree obtained from this local sample was highly similar to that from
existing mitogenomes selected for global coverage of major lineages of Coleoptera. When all sequences were combined, only minor topological changes are induced against this reference set, indicating an increasingly stable estimate of coleopteran phylogeny, whilst the ecological sample
expands the tip-level representation of several lineages. Robust trees generated from ecological samples now enable an evolutionary framework for ecology. Meanwhile, the inclusion of
uncharacterized samples in the tree-of-life rapidly expands taxon and biogeographic representation of lineages without morphological identification. Mitogenomes from shotgun sequencing of unsorted environmental samples and their associated metadata, placed robustly into the phylogenetic tree, constitute novel DNA ‘superbarcodes’ for testing hypotheses regarding global patterns of diversity.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: First published online: May 8, 2015
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences
Item ID: 15883
Notes on copyright: © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
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Depositing User: Martijn Timmermans
Date Deposited: 12 May 2015 11:18
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2022 00:38

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