Evolutionary history of Carnivora (Mammalia, Laurasiatheria) inferred from mitochondrial genomes.
ABSTRACT: The order Carnivora, which currently includes 296 species classified into 16 families, is distributed across all continents. The phylogeny and the timing of diversification of members of the order are still a matter of debate. Here, complete mitochondrial genomes were analysed to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships and to estimate divergence times among species of Carnivora. We assembled 51 new mitogenomes from 13 families, and aligned them with available mitogenomes by selecting only those showing more than 1% of nucleotide divergence and excluding those suspected to be of low-quality or from misidentified taxa. Our final alignment included 220 taxa representing 2,442 mitogenomes. Our analyses led to a robust resolution of suprafamilial and intrafamilial relationships. We identified 21 fossil calibration points to estimate a molecular timescale for carnivorans. According to our divergence time estimates, crown carnivorans appeared during or just after the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum; all major groups of Caniformia (Cynoidea/Arctoidea; Ursidae; Musteloidea/Pinnipedia) diverged from each other during the Eocene, while all major groups of Feliformia (Nandiniidae; Feloidea; Viverroidea) diversified more recently during the Oligocene, with a basal divergence of Nandinia at the Eocene/Oligocene transition; intrafamilial divergences occurred during the Miocene, except for the Procyonidae, as Potos separated from other genera during the Oligocene.
Project description:Modern North American carnivorous mammal assemblages consist of species from a single clade: the Carnivora. Carnivorans once coexisted with members of other meat-eating clades, including the creodonts (Hyaenodontida and Oxyaenida). Creodonts, however, went extinct in North America during the late Eocene and early Oligocene, potentially due to niche overlap and resource competition with contemporary carnivorans. In this study, we employ a community ecology approach to understand whether the dietary niches of coexisting creodonts and carnivorans overlapped during the late Eocene (Chadronian North American Land Mammal Age), a time when creodonts were dwindling and carnivorans were diversifying. We quantify niche overlap based on inferences of diet from carnassial tooth shape estimated using Orientation Patch Count, Dirichlet's Normal Surface Energy, and linear dental measurements as well as from body mass for all species in the Calf Creek Local Fauna of Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan (Treaty 4 land). Although creodonts and carnivorans shared characteristics of their carnassial tooth shape, suggesting similar chewing mechanics and feeding habits, we find that marked differences in body size likely facilitated niche partitioning, at least between the largest creodonts and carnivorans. Calculations of prey focus masses and prey mass spectra indicate that only the smallest creodont may have experienced significant competition for prey with the coeval carnivorans. We suggest that the ultimate extinction of creodonts from North America during the late Eocene and Oligocene was unlikely to have been driven by factors related to niche overlap with carnivorans.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Despite a long history of research, the phylogenetic origin and initial diversification of the mammalian crown-group Carnivora remain elusive. Well-preserved fossil materials of basal carnivorans are essential for resolving these issues, and for constraining the timing of the carnivoran origin, which constitutes an important time-calibration point in mammalian phylogenetics.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>A new carnivoramorphan from the middle Eocene of southern California, Lycophocyon hutchisoni, is described. The new taxon exhibits stages of dental and basicranial evolution that are intermediate between earlier carnivoramorphans and the earliest representatives of canoid carnivorans. The evolutionary affinity of the new taxon was determined by a cladistic analysis of previously-published and newly-acquired morphological data for 30 Paleogene carnivoramorphans. The most-parsimonious trees identified L. hutchisoni as a basal caniform carnivoran, and placed (1) Tapocyon robustus, Quercygale angustidens, "Miacis" sylvestris, "M." uintensis, and "M." gracilis inside or outside the Carnivora, (2) nimravids within the Feliformia, and (3) the amphicyonid Daphoenus outside the crown-group Canoidea. Parsimony reconstructions of ancestral character states suggest that loss of the upper third molars and development of well-ossified entotympanics that are firmly fused to the basicranium (neither condition is observed in L. hutchisoni) are not associated with the origin of the Carnivora as traditionally thought, but instead occurred independently in the Caniformia and the Feliformia. A discriminant analysis of the estimated body weight and dental ecomorphology predicted a mesocarnivorous diet for L. hutchisoni, and the postcranial morphology suggests a scansorial habit.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>Lycophocyon hutchisoni illuminates the morphological evolution of early caniforms leading to the origin of crown-group canoids. Considerable uncertainty remains with respect to the phylogenetic origin of the Carnivora. The minimum date of caniform-feliform divergence is provisionally suggested to be either 47 million years ago or 38 million years ago, depending on the position of "Miacis" sylvestris within or outside the Carnivora, respectively.
Project description:Although sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is widespread across the animal tree of life, the underlying evolutionary processes that influence this phenomenon remains elusive and difficult to tease apart. In this study, I examined how social system (as a proxy for sexual selection) and diet (as a proxy for natural selection) influenced the evolution of SSD in terrestrial carnivorans (Carnivora; Mammalia). Using phylogenetic comparative methods, I found that are territorial solitary and carnivorous carnivorans exhibited selection towards increased degree of male-biased SSD compared to other carnivorans with alternative social systems and diets. I also found the absence of Rensch's rule across most carnivoran clades, suggestion a relaxation of the influences of sexual selection on SSD. These results together suggest that sexual selection and niche divergence together are important processes influencing the evolution of male-biased SSD in extant terrestrial carnivorans.
Project description:Using molecular phylogenetic data and methods we inferred divergence times and diversification patterns for the weevil subfamily Ceutorhynchinae in the context of host-plant associations and global climate over evolutionary time. We detected four major diversification shifts that correlate with both host shifts and major climate events. Ceutorhynchinae experienced an increase in diversification rate at ?53 Ma, during the Early Eocene Climate Optimum, coincident with a host shift to Lamiaceae. A second major diversification phase occurred at the end of the Eocene (?34 Ma). This contrasts with the overall deterioration in climate equability at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary, but tracks the diversification of important host plant clades in temperate (higher) latitudes, leading to increased diversification rates in the weevil clades infesting temperate hosts. A third major phase of diversification is correlated with the rising temperatures of the Late Oligocene Warming Event (?26.5 Ma); diversification rates then declined shortly after the Middle Miocene Climate Transition (?14.9 Ma). Our results indicate that biotic and abiotic factors together explain the evolution of Ceutorhynchinae better than each of these drivers viewed in isolation.
Project description:Carnivora is a successful taxon in terms of dietary diversity. We investigated the dietary adaptations of carnivoran dentition and the developmental background of their dental diversity, which may have contributed to the success of the lineage. A developmental model was tested and extended to explain the unique variability and exceptional phenotypes observed in carnivoran dentition. Carnivorous mammalian orders exhibited two distinct patterns of dietary adaptation in molars and only Carnivora evolved novel variability, exhibiting a high correlation between relative molar size and the shape of the first molar. Studies of Bmp7-hetero-deficient mice, which may exhibit lower Bmp7 expression, suggested that Bmp7 has pleiotropic effects on these two dental traits. Its effects are consistent with the pattern of dietary adaptation observed in Carnivora, but not that observed in other carnivorous mammals. A molecular evolutionary analysis revealed that Bmp7 sequence evolved by natural selection during ursid evolution, suggesting that it plays an evolutionary role in the variation of carnivoran dentition. Using mouse experiments and a molecular evolutionary analysis, we extrapolated the causal mechanism of the hitherto enigmatic ursid dentition (larger M2 than M1 and M3). Our results demonstrate how carnivorans acquired novel dental variability that benefits their dietary divergence.
Project description:Dipelta (Caprifoliaceae) is a Tertiary relict genus endemic to China, comprising three species with horticultural and medicinal values. For the lack of genomic information, interspecific relationships and divergence times in the genus remain unresolved. In the present study, we assembled and characterized the complete plastomes, the partial mitogenomes, and nuclear internal transcribed spacer (ITS) fragments from genome skimming datasets of 14 Dipelta individuals. The plastomes were conserved in genomic structure, gene order, and gene content, but with highly variable repeat sequences. Three genes (rpl23, ycf1, ycf2) were examined with positive selection, and nine divergent hotpot regions (psbL, accD, rpl23, ycf2, ycf3, rbcL-accD, trnI-CAU-ycf2, ndhH-rps15, and rps18 intron) were potentially valuable for DNA barcodes. Contrasted to the variability in plastome sequences, mitogenomes contained 12 protein-coding genes with limited indels and nucleotide substitutions, and no gene was found under positive selection. Genes in organellar genomes tended to have a similar pattern of codon usage bias, with a preference of A/U ending codons. Phylogenetic trees constructed with plastomes, mitogenomes, and ITS sequences consistently supported that Dipelta was monophyletic, and Dipelta elegans was sister to the other two taxa. Interspecific divergences were estimated at about 33-37 Ma in the Eocene/Oligocene boundary, suggesting the paleo-endemism of the extant species as "living fossils" of the East Asian Flora. Our study well-exhibited that genome skimming could provide valuable genomic information to elucidate the evolutionary history of the complex group in a cost-efficient way.
Project description:Oaks (Quercus L.) are ideal models to assess patterns of plant diversity. We integrated the sequence data of five chloroplast and two nuclear loci from 50 Chinese oaks to explore the phylogenetic framework, evolution and diversification patterns of the Chinese oak's lineage. The framework phylogeny strongly supports two subgenera Quercus and Cerris comprising four infrageneric sections Quercus, Cerris, Ilex and Cyclobalanopsis for the Chinese oaks. An evolutionary analysis suggests that the two subgenera probably split during the mid-Eocene, followed by intergroup divergence within the subgenus Cerris around the late Eocene. The initial diversification of sections in the subgenus Cerris was dated between the mid-Oligocene and the Oligocene-Miocene boundary, while a rapid species radiation in section Quercus started in the late Miocene. Diversification simulations indicate a potential evolutionary shift on section Quercus, while several phenotypic shifts likely occur among all sections. We found significant negative correlations between rates of the lineage diversification and phenotypic turnover, suggesting a complex interaction between the species evolution and morphological divergence in Chinese oaks. Our infrageneric phylogeny of Chinese oaks accords with the recently proposed classification of the genus Quercus. The results point to tectonic activity and climatic change during the Tertiary as possible drivers of evolution and diversification in the Chinese oak's lineage.
Project description:Climate has a large impact on diversity and evolution of the world's biota. The Eocene-Oligocene transition from tropical climate to cooler, drier environments was accompanied by global species turnover. A large number of Old World lacertid lizard lineages have diversified after the Eocene-Oligocene boundary. One of the most speciose reptile genera in the arid Palearctic, Acanthodactylus, contains two sub-Saharan species with unresolved phylogenetic relationship and unknown climatic preferences. We here aim to understand how and when adaptation to arid conditions occurred in Acanthodactylus and when tropical habitats where entered. Using whole mitogenomes from fresh and archival DNA and published sequences we recovered a well-supported Acanthodactylus phylogeny and underpinned the timing of diversification with environmental niche analyses of the sub-Saharan species A. guineensis and A. boueti in comparison to all arid Acanthodactylus. We found that A. guineensis represents an old lineage that splits from a basal node in the Western clade, and A. boueti is a derived lineage and probably not its sister. Their long branches characterize them-and especially A. guineensis-as lineages that may have persisted for a long time without further diversification or have undergone multiple extinctions. Environmental niche models verified the occurrence of A. guineensis and A. boueti in hot humid environments different from the other 42 arid Acanthodactylus species. While A. guineensis probably remained in tropical habitat from periods prior to the Eocene-Oligocene boundary, A. boueti entered tropical environments independently at a later period. Our results provide an important baseline for studying adaptation and the transition from humid to arid environments in Lacertidae.
Project description:Massive biotic change occurred during the Eocene as the climate shifted from warm and equable to seasonal and latitudinally stratified. Mild winter temperatures across Arctic intercontinental land bridges permitted dispersal of frost-intolerant groups until the Eocene-Oligocene boundary, while trans-Arctic dispersal in thermophilic groups may have been limited to the early Eocene, especially during short-lived hyperthermals. Some of these lineages are now disjunct between continents of the northern hemisphere. Although Eocene climate change may have been one of the most important drivers of these ancient patterns in modern animal and plant distributions, its particular events are rarely implicated or correlated with group-specific climatic requirements. Here we explored the climatic and geological drivers of a particularly striking Neotropical-Oriental disjunct distribution in the rove beetle Bolitogyrus, a suspected Eocene relict. We integrated evidence from Eocene fossils, distributional and climate data, paleoclimate, paleogeography, and phylogenetic divergence dating to show that intercontinental dispersal of Bolitogyrus ceased in the early Eocene, consistent with the termination of conditions required by thermophilic lineages. These results provide new insight into the poorly known and short-lived Arctic forest community of the Early Eocene and its surviving lineages.
Project description:Pancreatic ribonuclease (RNASE1) is a digestive enzyme that has been one of the key models in studies of evolutionary innovation and functional diversification. It has been believed that the RNASE1 gene duplications are correlated with the plant-feeding adaptation of foregut-fermenting herbivores. Here, we characterized RNASE1 genes from Caniformia, which has a simple digestive system and lacks microbial digestion typical of herbivores, in an unprecedented scope based on both gene sequence and tissue expression analyses. Remarkably, the results yielded new hypotheses regarding the evolution and the function of Caniformia RNASE1 genes. Four independent gene duplication events in the families of superfamily Musteloidea, including Procyonidae, Ailuridae, Mephitidae and Mustelidae, were recovered, rejecting previous Mustelidae-specific duplication hypothesis, but supporting Musteloidea duplication hypothesis. Moreover, our analyses revealed pronounced differences among the RNASE1 gene copies regarding their selection pressures, pI values and tissue expression patterns, suggesting the differences in their physiological functions. Notably, the expression analyses detected the transcription of a RNASE1 pseudogene in several tissues, raising the possibility that pseudogenes are also a potential source during the RNase functional diversification. In sum, the present work demonstrated a far more complex and intriguing evolutionary pattern and functional diversity of mammalian ribonuclease than previously thought.