Scott Edwards


Alexander Agassiz Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology & Curator of Ornithology, Dept of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology & Museum of Comparative Zoology,Harvard University, USA. 

Honorary Visiting Professor, Jiangsu Key Labotorary ofPhylogenomics and Comparative Genomics, School of LifeSciences, Jiangsu Normal University, China

Title: Comparative genomics, the anomaly zone, and the phylogeny of palaeognathous birds

Abstract: A major justification for coalescent methods in phylogenomic analysis is their superior behavior in regions of species tree space where incomplete lineage sorting (ILS) is high.The anomaly zone is a region of tree space in which ILS is so high that the most common gene tree actually differs from the overarching species tree, but empirical examples of the anomaly zone in nature are still rare.Here we present a phylogenomic analysis based on high coverage whole-genome sequences of the palaeognathous birds, which include the ratites, which are flightless, and the volant tinamous, which recent work has shown are embedded within the palaeognath radiation.Using a data set consisting of over 20,000 noncoding markers, including UCEs, introns and conserved non-exonic elements (CNEEs), including markers from an extinct moa, and coalescent methods such as MP-EST, we fully resolve a palaeognath tree in a way that conflicts with recent analyses using supermatrices, particularly with regard to the placement of rheas, and confirms a species tree in the anomaly zone.An identical tree is supported by analysis of over 5000 transposable element insertions.These results illustrate the power of whole-genome analyses combined with coalescent phylogenetic methods to resolve the Tree of Life.