Phylogenomic analysis of the beetle suborder Adephaga with comparison of tailored and generalized ultraconserved element probe performance

Grey T. Gustafson, Stephen M. Baca, Alana M. Alexander, Andrew E.Z. Short

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Adephaga is the second largest suborder of beetles (Coleoptera) and they serve as important arthropod predators in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The suborder is divided into Geadephaga comprising terrestrial families and Hydradephaga for aquatic lineages. Despite numerous studies, phylogenetic relationships among the adephagan families and monophyly of the Hydradephaga itself remain in question. Here we conduct a comprehensive phylogenomic analysis of the suborder using ultraconserved elements (UCEs). This study presents the first in vitro test of a newly developed UCE probe set customized for use within Adephaga that includes both probes tailored specifically for the suborder, alongside generalized Coleoptera probes previously found to work in adephagan taxa. We assess the utility of the entire probe set, as well as comparing the tailored and generalized probes alone for reconstructing evolutionary relationships. Our analyses recovered strong support for the paraphyly of Hydradephaga with whirligig beetles (Gyrinidae) placed as sister to all other adephagan families. Geadephaga was strongly supported as monophyletic and placed sister to a clade composed of Haliplidae + Dytiscoidea. Monophyly of Dytiscoidea was strongly supported with relationships among the dytiscoid families resolved and strongly supported. Relationships among the subfamilies of Dytiscidae were strongly supported but largely incongruent with prior phylogenetic estimates for the family. The results of our UCE probe comparison showed that tailored probes alone outperformed generalized probes alone, as well as the full combined probe set (containing both types of probes), under decreased taxon sampling. When taxon sampling was increased, the full combined probe set outperformed both tailored probes and generalized probes alone. This study provides further evidence that UCE probe sets customized for a focal group result in a greater number of recovered loci and substantially improve phylogenomic analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)552-570
Number of pages19
JournalSystematic Entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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