Assessing the Utility of Transcriptome Data for Inferring Phylogenetic Relationships Among Coleoid Cephalopods

Published In

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution

Document Type


Publication Date



Historically, deep-level relationships within the molluscan class Cephalopoda (squids, cuttlefishes, octopods and their relatives) have remained elusive due in part to the considerable morphological diversity of extant taxa, a limited fossil record for species that lack a calcareous shell and difficulties in sampling open ocean taxa. Many conflicts identified by morphologists in the early 1900s remain unresolved today in spite of advances in morphological, molecular and analytical methods. In this study we assess the utility of transcriptome data for resolving cephalopod phylogeny, with special focus on the orders of Decapodiformes (open-eye squids, bobtail squids, cuttlefishes and relatives). To do so, we took new and previously published transcriptome data and used a unique cephalopod core ortholog set to generate a dataset that was subjected to an array of filtering and analytical methods to assess the impacts of: taxon sampling, ortholog number, compositional and rate heterogeneity and incongruence across loci. Analyses indicated that datasets that maximized taxonomic coverage but included fewer orthologs were less stable than datasets that sacrificed taxon sampling to increase the number of orthologs. Clades recovered irrespective of dataset, filtering or analytical method included Octopodiformes (Vampyroteuthis infernalis + octopods), Decapodiformes (squids, cuttlefishes and their relatives), and orders Oegopsida (open-eyed squids) and Myopsida (e.g., loliginid squids). Ordinal-level relationships within Decapodiformes were the most susceptible to dataset perturbation, further emphasizing the challenges associated with uncovering relationships at deep nodes in the cephalopod tree of life.



Persistent Identifier