Although massively parallel sequencing has facilitated large-scale DNA sequencing, comparisons among distantly related species rely upon small portions of the genome that are easily aligned. Methods are needed to efficiently obtain comparable DNA fragments prior to massively parallel sequencing, particularly for biologists working with non-model organisms. We introduce a new class of molecular marker, anchored by ultraconserved genomic elements (UCEs), that universally enable target enrichment and sequencing of thousands of orthologous loci across species separated by hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Our analyses here focus on use of UCE markers in Amniota because UCEs and phylogenetic relationships are well-known in some amniotes. We perform an in silico experiment to demonstrate that sequence flanking 2030 UCEs contains information sufficient to enable unambiguous recovery of the established primate phylogeny. We extend this experiment by performing an in vitro enrichment of 2386 UCE-anchored loci from nine, non-model avian species. We then use alignments of 854 of these loci to unambiguously recover the established evolutionary relationships within and among three ancient bird lineages. Because many organismal lineages have UCEs, this type of genetic marker and the analytical framework we outline can be applied across the tree of life, potentially reshaping our understanding of phylogeny at many taxonomic levels. © The Author(s) 2012. Published by Oxford University Press, on behalf of the Society of Systematic Biologists. All rights reserved.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Faircloth, B., McCormack, J., Crawford, N., Harvey, M., Brumfield, R., & Glenn, T. (2012). Ultraconserved elements anchor thousands of genetic markers spanning multiple evolutionary timescales. Systematic Biology, 61 (5), 717-726. https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/sys004