Genome-wide ultraconserved elements exhibit higher phylogenetic informativeness than traditional gene markers in percomorph fishes

Princess S. Gilbert, Jonathan Chang, Calvin Pan, Eric M. Sobel, Janet S. Sinsheimer, Brant C. Faircloth, Michael E. Alfaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Ultraconserved elements (UCEs) have become popular markers in phylogenomic studies because of their cost effectiveness and their potential to resolve problematic phylogenetic relationships. Although UCE datasets typically contain a much larger number of loci and sites than more traditional datasets of PCR-amplified, single-copy, protein coding genes, a fraction of UCE sites are expected to be part of a nearly invariant core, and the relative performance of UCE datasets versus protein coding gene datasets is poorly understood. Here we use phylogenetic informativeness (PI) to compare the resolving power of multi-locus and UCE datasets in a sample of percomorph fishes with sequenced genomes (genome-enabled). We compare three data sets: UCE core regions, flanking sequence adjacent to the UCE core and a set of ten protein coding genes commonly used in fish systematics. We found the net informativeness of UCE core and flank regions to be roughly ten-fold and 100-fold more informative than that of the protein coding genes. On a per locus basis UCEs and protein coding genes exhibited similar levels of phylogenetic informativeness. Our results suggest that UCEs offer enormous potential for resolving relationships across the percomorph tree of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-146
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Molecular evolution
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Non-coding DNA
  • Phylogenetic informativeness
  • Phylogenomics
  • Ultraconserved elements

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