Are pollen fossils useful for calibrating relaxed molecular clock dating of phylogenies? A comparative study using Myrtaceae

Thornhill, Andrew H., Popple, Lindsay W., Carter, Richard J., Ho, Simon Y.W., and Crisp, Michael D. (2012) Are pollen fossils useful for calibrating relaxed molecular clock dating of phylogenies? A comparative study using Myrtaceae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 63 (1). pp. 15-27.

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Abstract

The identification and application of reliable fossil calibrations represents a key component of many molecular studies of evolutionary timescales. In studies of plants, most paleontological calibrations are associated with macrofossils. However, the pollen record can also inform age calibrations if fossils matching extant pollen groups are found. Recent work has shown that pollen of the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, can be classified into a number of morphological groups that are synapomorphic with molecular groups. By assembling a data matrix of pollen morphological characters from extant and fossil Myrtaceae, we were able to measure the fit of 26 pollen fossils to a molecular phylogenetic tree using parsimony optimisation of characters. We identified eight Myrtaceidites fossils as appropriate for calibration based on the most parsimonious placements of these fossils on the tree. These fossils were used to inform age constraints in a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of a sequence alignment comprising two sequences from the chloroplast genome (matK and ndhF) and one nuclear locus (ITS), sampled from 106 taxa representing 80 genera. Three additional analyses were calibrated by placing pollen fossils using geographic and morphological information (eight calibrations), macrofossils (five calibrations), and macrofossils and pollen fossils in combination (12 calibrations). The addition of new fossil pollen calibrations led to older crown ages than have previously been found for tribes such as Eucalypteae and Myrteae. Estimates of rate variation among lineages were affected by the choice of calibrations, suggesting that the use of multiple calibrations can improve estimates of rate heterogeneity among lineages. This study illustrates the potential of including pollen-based calibrations in molecular studies of divergence times.

Item ID: 35596
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-9513
Keywords: Myrtaceae, molecular dating, relaxed molecular clock, Bayesian phylogenetics, fossil calibration, pollen, macrofossil
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2014 15:53
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060309 Phylogeny and Comparative Analysis @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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