Asterid phylogenomics/phylotranscriptomics uncover morphological evolutionary histories and support phylogenetic placement for numerous whole genome duplications.Mol Biol Evol. 2020 Jul 11 [Online ahead of print]MB
Asterids are one of the most successful angiosperm lineages, exhibiting extensive morphological diversity and including a number of important crops. Despite their biological prominence and value to humans, the deep asterid phylogeny has not been fully resolved, and the evolutionary landscape underlying their radiation remains unknown. To resolve the asterid phylogeny, we sequenced 213 transcriptomes/genomes and combined them with other datasets, representing all accepted orders and nearly all families of asterids. We show fully supported monophyly of asterids, Berberidopsidales as sister to asterids, monophyly of all orders except Icacinales, Aquifoliales and Bruniales, and monophyly of all families except Icacinaceae and Ehretiaceae. Novel taxon placements benefited from the expanded sampling with living collections from botanical gardens, resolving hitherto uncertain relationships. The remaining ambiguous placements here are likely due to limited sampling and could be addressed in the future with relevant additional taxa. Using our well-resolved phylogeny as reference, divergence time estimates support an Aptian (Early Cretaceous) origin of asterids and the origin of all orders before the K-Pg boundary. Ancestral state reconstruction at the family level suggests that the asterid ancestor was a woody terrestrial plant with simple leaves, bisexual and actinomorphic flowers with free petals and free anthers, a superior ovary with a style, and drupaceous fruits. WGD analyses provide strong evidence for 33 WGDs in asterids and one in Berberidopsidales, including four supra-familial and seven familial/sub-familial WGDs. Our results advance the understanding of asterid phylogeny and provide numerous novel evolutionary insights into their diversification and morphological evolution.