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Adiantum.png EEB 5349: Phylogenetics


To introduce you to the maximum likelihood software IQ-Tree, and to show you how to visualize and annotate trees with the R package ggtree.


Both IQ-Tree (2015) and ggtree (2017) are relative newcombers to their respective arenas, so let's road-test them. If that's not cutting-edge enough for you, we will be using them with the data from a 2018 study that was accepted on February 9th. It's not even officially published yet! The authors of the study used a Bayesian phylogeny as the basis for their study, but did not show results for a maximum likelihood phylogeny. Typically, studies present the results of both analyses, to examine any sensitivity their data may have to the phylogenetic inference method used. In order to help the authors out, we will infer a maximum likelihood phylogeny for them, and see if it recovers the same topology as their Bayesian phylogeny.

The Study

The study by Condamine et al. (2018) focuses on Apollo (Parnassius) butterflies which live high up in alpine regions of the Holarctic, and have long been a favorite genus for collectors due to their beauty and relatively high endemism (collectors like hard to find things). Being so well-known, their taxonomy is also well-known and relatively stable. In other words, we know what all the species are. This makes the group a good candidate for the type of comparative phylogenetic study that the authors performed. Also of note is the use of mating plugs by male Apollos to control paternity.

The authors were interested in testing test two hypotheses about the main drivers of diversification and macroevolution: the Red Queen and Court Jester Hypotheses. The Red Queen hypothesis, coined by Leigh Van Valen in 1973, posits that species must constantly adapt through evolutionary time in order to survive in a world of ever-evolving species (it's an allusion to Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll). On the other hand, The Court Jester Hypothesis, coined by Anthony Barnosky in 1999, posits that it is interactions between species and the non-living world around it that are the main drivers of diversification and macroevolution.

In order to test these hypotheses the authors first needed a time-calibrated phylogeny. They used previously published DNA data from Apollo (Parnassius), coupled with two fossil specimens to generate a complete (as in all 85 living species in the genus are included) time-calibrated phylogeny. Knowing the absolute, and not just relative dates of the nodes, the authors were able to use historical climatic and geological data (court-jester), as well as inferred ancestral species ranges (Red Queen) to try to tease apart who rules the Parnassius Court: The Red Queen or the Jester?

Getting Started

Log into your account on the cluster (ssh

R and ggtree

Literature Cited

red queen hypothesis court-jester hypothesis ggtree iqtree