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Genome‐wide survey of nuclear protein‐coding markers for beetle phylogenetics and their application in resolving both deep and shallow‐level divergences

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The International Journal of Health Planning and Management

Published online on


Beetles (Coleoptera) are the most diverse and species‐rich insect group, representing an impressive explosive radiation in the evolutionary history of insects, and their evolutionary relationships are often difficult to resolve. The amount of ‘traditional markers’ (e.g. mitochondrial genes and nuclear rDNAs) for beetle phylogenetics is small, and these markers often lack sufficient signals in resolving relationships for such a rapidly radiating lineage. Here, based on the available genome data of beetles and other related insect species, we performed a genome‐wide survey to search nuclear protein‐coding (NPC) genes suitable for research on beetle phylogenetics. As a result, we identified 1470 candidate loci, which provided a valuable data resource to the beetle evolutionary research community for NPC marker development. We randomly chose 180 candidate loci from the database to design primers and successfully developed 95 NPC markers which can be PCR amplified from standard genomic DNA extracts. These new nuclear markers are universally applicable across Coleoptera, with an average amplification success rate of 90%. To test the phylogenetic utility, we used them to investigate the backbone phylogeny of Coleoptera (18 families sampled) and the family Coccinellidae (39 species sampled). Both phylogenies are well resolved (average bootstrap support >95%), showing that our markers can be used to address phylogenetic questions of various evolutionary depth (from species level to family level). In general, the newly developed nuclear markers are much easier to use and more phylogenetically informative than the ‘traditional markers’, and show great potential to expedite resolution of many parts in the Beetle Tree of Life.