Nonstationary evolution and compositional heterogeneity in beetle mitochondrial phylogenomics. Academic Article uri icon


  • Many published phylogenies are based on methods that assume equal nucleotide composition among taxa. Studies have shown, however, that this assumption is often not accurate, particularly in divergent lineages. Nonstationary sequence evolution, when taxa in different lineages evolve in different ways, can lead to unequal nucleotide composition. This can cause inference methods to fail and phylogenies to be inaccurate. Recent advancements in phylogenetic theory have proposed new models of nonstationary sequence evolution; these models often outperform equivalent stationary models. A variety of new phylogenetic software implementing such models has been developed, but the studies employing the new methodology are still few. We discovered convergence of nucleotide composition within mitochondrial genomes of the insect order Coleoptera (beetles). We found variation in base content both among species and among genes in the genome. To this data set, we have applied a broad range of phylogenetic methods, including some traditional stationary models of evolution and all the more recent nonstationary models. We compare 8 inference methods applied to the same data set. Although the more commonly used methods universally fail to recover established clades, we find that some of the newer software packages are more appropriate for data of this nature. The software packages p4, PHASE, and nhPhyML were able to overcome the systematic bias in our data set, but parsimony, MrBayes, NJ, LogDet, and PhyloBayes were not.

published proceedings

  • Syst Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Sheffield, N. C., Song, H., Cameron, S. L., & Whiting, M. F.

citation count

  • 142

complete list of authors

  • Sheffield, Nathan C||Song, Hojun||Cameron, Stephen L||Whiting, Michael F

publication date

  • August 2009