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Ordered phylogenomic subsampling enables diagnosis of systematic errors in the placement of the enigmatic arachnid order Palpigradi

Citation

Ballesteros, Jesús et al. (2019), Ordered phylogenomic subsampling enables diagnosis of systematic errors in the placement of the enigmatic arachnid order Palpigradi , Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.t1g1jwsz4

Abstract

The miniaturized arachnid order Palpigradi has ambiguous phylogenetic affinities, due to its odd combination of plesiomorphic and derived morphological traits. This lineage has never been sampled in phylogenomic datasets because of its small body size and fragility of most species, a sampling gap of immediate concern to recent disputes over arachnid monophyly. To redress this gap, we sampled a population of the cave-inhabiting species Eukoenenia spelaea from Slovakia and inferred its placement in the phylogeny of Chelicerata using dense phylogenomic matrices of up to 1450 loci, drawn from high-quality transcriptomic libraries and complete genomes. The complete matrix included exemplars of all extant orders of Chelicerata. Analyses of the complete matrix recovered palpigrades as the sister group of the long-branch order Parasitiformes (ticks) with high support. However, sequential deletion of long-branch taxa revealed that the position of palpigrades is prone to topological instability. Phylogenomic subsampling approaches that maximized taxon or dataset completeness recovered palpigrades as the sister group of camel spiders (Solifugae), with modest support. While this relationship is congruent with the location and architecture of the coxal glands, a long-forgotten character system that opens in the pedipalpal segments only in palpigrades and solifuges, we show that nodal support values in concatenated supermatrices can mask high levels of underlying topological conflict in the placement of the enigmatic Palpigradi.