The origin of the European bison (Bison bonasus, Linnaeus, 1758) has been widely discussed and investigated in recent years. The species had a wide historic geographic distribution throughout the European continent during the middle and late Holocene, ranging from France in the west to the Caucasus in the east. However, archaeological evidence is needed to resolve the southern extent of the European bison distribution. We discovered one bison skull fragment during archaeological excavations in 2008 in the area of Yenikapı Metro and Marmaray (Turkey). Radiocarbon dating indicated the skull was deposited during the Byzantine period (seventh to eighth century AD). Mitochondrial genome analyses provided clear evidence that the skull was from a European bison. This is the first unambiguous evidence of the presence of this species in southeastern Europe during Byzantine times, which validates the historical written records of a potentially wider range of the European bison in historical times.

Phylogeography can provide insight into the potential for speciation and identify geographic regions and evolutionary processes associated with species richness and evolutionary endemism. In the marine environment, highly mobile species sometimes show structured patterns of diversity, but the processes isolating populations and promoting differentiation are often unclear. The Delphinidae (oceanic dolphins) are a striking case in point and, in particular, bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops spp.). Understanding the radiation of species in this genus is likely to provide broader inference about the processes that determine patterns of biogeography and speciation, because both fine-scale structure over a range of kilometers and relative panmixia over an oceanic range are known for Tursiops populations. In our study, novel Tursiops spp. sequences from the northwest Indian Ocean (including mitogenomes and two nuDNA loci) are included in a worldwide Tursiops spp. phylogeographic analysis. We discover a new ‘aduncus’ type lineage in the Arabian Sea (off India, Pakistan and Oman) that diverged from the Australasian lineage ∼261 Ka. Effective management of coastal dolphins in the region will need to consider this new lineage as an evolutionarily significant unit. We propose that the establishment of this lineage could have been in response to climate change during the Pleistocene and show data supporting hypotheses for multiple divergence events, including vicariance across the Indo-Pacific barrier and in the northwest Indian Ocean. These data provide valuable transferable inference on the potential mechanisms for population and species differentiation across this geographic range.

Wheat breeders and academics alike use Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) as molecular markers to characterise regions of interest within the hexaploid wheat genome. A number of SNP-based genotyping platforms are available and their utility depends upon factors such as the available technologies, number of data points required, budgets and the technical expertise required. Unfortunately, markers can rarely be exchanged between existing and newly developed platforms, meaning that previously generated data cannot be compared, or combined, with more recently generated datasets. We predict that genotyping by sequencing will become the predominant genotyping technology within the next five to ten years. With this in mind, to ensure that data generated from current genotyping platforms continues to be of use, we have designed and utilised SNP-based capture probes from several thousand existing and publicly available probes from Axiom® and KASP™ genotyping platforms. We have validated our capture probes in a targeted genotyping by sequencing protocol using thirty one previously genotyped UK elite hexaploid wheat accessions. Data comparisons between targeted genotyping by sequencing, Axiom® array genotyping and KASP™ genotyping assays, identified a set of 3,256 probes which reliably bring together targeted genotyping by sequencing data with the previously available marker dataset. As such these probes are likely to be of considerable value to the wheat community. The probe details, full probe sequences and a custom built analysis pipeline may be freely downloaded from the CerealsDB. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

The rapid diversification of Myotis bats into more than 100 species is one of the most extensive mammalian radiations available for study. Efforts to understand relationships within Myotis have primarily utilized mitochondrial markers and trees inferred from nuclear markers lacked resolution. Our current understanding of relationships within Myotis is therefore biased towards a set of phylogenetic markers that may not reflect the history of the nuclear genome. To resolve this, we sequenced the full mitochondrial genomes of 37 representative Myotis, primarily from the New World, in conjunction with targeted sequencing of 3648 ultraconserved elements (UCEs). We inferred the phylogeny and explored the effects of concatenation and summary phylogenetic methods, as well as combinations of markers based on informativeness or levels of missing data, on our results. Of the 294 phylogenies generated from the nuclear UCE data, all are significantly different from phylogenies inferred using mitochondrial genomes. Even within the nuclear data, quartet frequencies indicate that around half of all UCE loci conflict with the estimated species tree. Several factors can drive such conflict, including incomplete lineage sorting, introgressive hybridization, or even phylogenetic error. Despite the degree of discordance between nuclear UCE loci and the mitochondrial genome and among UCE loci themselves, the most common nuclear topology is recovered in one quarter of all analyses with strong nodal support. Based on these results, we re-examine the evolutionary history of Myotis to better understand the phenomena driving their unique nuclear, mitochondrial, and biogeographic histories.

Today, next generation sequencing (NGS) is extensively used in the research setting. However, high costs of NGS testing still prevent its routine use in clinical practice. One of the factors affecting the cost of sequencing is the number of reads per site, i.e. the number of times each nucleotide gets sequenced. On the one hand, lower coverage makes the whole process much faster and less time-consuming. On the other hand, it results in poor data quality. No unanimous opinion has been reached yet as to what minimum depth of coverage can produce reliable results. The aim of this study was to determine the minimum number of reads sufficient for accurate base calling of heterozygous and single nucleotide variants (SNV). Using bioinformatics methods, we demonstrate that accuracy can be achieved at a minimum depth of 12X.

Virulence determines the impact a pathogen has on the fitness of its host, yet current understanding of the evolutionary origins and causes of virulence of many pathogens is surprisingly incomplete. Here, we explore the evolution of Marek’s disease virus (MDV), a herpesvirus commonly afflicting chickens and rarely other avian species. The history of MDV in the 20th century represents an important case study in the evolution of virulence. The severity of MDV infection in chickens has been rising steadily since the adoption of intensive farming techniques and vaccination programs in the 1950s and 1970s respectively. It has remained uncertain, however, which of these factors is causally more responsible for the observed increase in virulence of circulating viruses. We conducted a phylogenomic study to understand the evolution of MDV in the context of dramatic changes to poultry farming and disease control. Our analysis reveals evidence of geographical structuring of MDV strains, with reconstructions supporting the emergence of virulent viruses independently in North America and Eurasia. Of note, the emergence of virulent viruses appears to coincide approximately with the introduction of comprehensive vaccination on both continents. The time-dated phylogeny also indicated that MDV has a mean evolutionary rate of ~1.6 x 10-5 substitutions / site / year. An examination of gene-linked mutations did not identify a strong association between mutational variation and virulence phenotypes, indicating that MDV may evolve readily and rapidly under strong selective pressures, and that multiple genotypic pathways may underlie virulence adaptation in MDV. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Hybrid enrichment is an increasingly popular approach for obtaining hundreds of loci for phylogenetic analysis across many taxa quickly and cheaply. The genes targeted for sequencing are typically single-copy loci, which facilitate a more straightforward sequence assembly and homology assignment process. However, this approach limits the inclusion of most genes of functional interest, which often belong to multi-gene families. Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of including large gene families in hybrid enrichment protocols for phylogeny reconstruction and subsequent analyses of molecular evolution, using a new set of bait sequences designed for the “portullugo” (Caryophyllales), a moderately sized lineage of flowering plants (~ 2200 species) that includes the cacti and harbors many evolutionary transitions to C$$_{mathrm{4}}$$ and CAM photosynthesis. Including multi-gene families allowed us to simultaneously infer a robust phylogeny and construct a dense sampling of sequences for a major enzyme of C$$_{mathrm{4}}$$ and CAM photosynthesis, which revealed the accumulation of adaptive amino acid substitutions associated with C$$_{mathrm{4}}$$ and CAM origins in particular paralogs. Our final set of matrices for phylogenetic analyses included 75–218 loci across 74 taxa, with ~ 50% matrix completeness across data sets. Phylogenetic resolution was greatly improved across the tree, at both shallow and deep levels. Concatenation and coalescent-based approaches both resolve the sister lineage of the cacti with strong support: Anacampserotaceae $$+$$ Portulacaceae, two lineages of mostly diminutive succulent herbs of warm, arid regions. In spite of this congruence, BUCKy concordance analyses demonstrated strong and conflicting signals across gene trees. Our results add to the growing number of examples illustrating the complexity of phylogenetic signals in genomic-scale data.

The rapid rise of phenotypic and ecological diversity in independent lake-dwelling groups of cichlids is emblematic of the East African Great Lakes. In this study, we show that similar ecologically-based diversification has occurred in pike cichlids (Crenicichla) throughout the Uruguay River drainage of South America. We collected genomic data from nearly 500 ultraconserved element (UCEs) loci and >260,000 base pairs across 33 species, to obtain a phylogenetic hypothesis for the major species-groups and to evaluate the relationships and genetic structure among five closely-related, endemic, co-occurring species (the Uruguay River species flock; URSF). Additionally, we evaluated ecological divergence of the URSF based on body and lower pharyngeal jaw (LPJ) shape and gut contents. Across the genus, we recovered novel relationships among the species groups. We found strong support for the monophyly of the URSF; however, relationships among these species remain problematic, likely because of the rapid and recent evolution of this group. Clustered co-ancestry analysis recovered most species as well delimited genetic groups. The URSF species exhibit species-specific body and LPJ shapes associated with specialized trophic roles. Collectively, our results suggest that the URSF consists of incipient species that arose via ecological speciation associated with the exploration of novel trophic roles. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.