Pedro G Ferreira, Solenn Patalano, Ritika Chauhan, Richard Ffrench-Constant, Toni Gabaldon, Roderic Guigo and Seirian Sumner
Genome Biology 2013, 14:R20 doi:10.1186/gb-2013-14-2-r20
(2013-03-12 10:35) Centre for Genomics Regulation (CRG)
We use the term "sister group" in its relative sense.
The use of the term "sister group" in phylogenetics is generally used in relation
only to the taxa/lineages represented in the analysis, denoting as sister group the
closest relative only among the groups included in the analysis. That is In the general
case, two groups are sister groups if they share their most recent ancestral node
among those in the phylogenetic tree. This differs from the use of the term by systematicists
which tend to include all known lineages and define sister-group as the closest clade,
but this use is also relative to what lineages are known/considered. Note that the
impossibility to know all extinct lineages precludes us from using "sister group"
in absolute terms.
I am one of the co-authors of the paper
(2013-02-26 16:41) University of Hawaii
As a systematist, reading this paper made me feel like banging my head against a wall.
I first saw a short article about it in Science Daily and laughed at the gross mischaracterization
of Hymenoptera systematics portrayed there as typical of science journalism. Then
I came here and was surprisedto find that they were largely verbatim quotes from the
To list a few: Aculeata contains much more than just Vespoidea, including Apoidea
(aka Sphecoidea) and Chrysidoidea. Vespoidea contains much more than just Vespidae
and Formicidae; while it may be subject to change (possibly excluding ants), it will
not be dropped due to paraphyly but restricted to the closest relatives of Vespidae
(given the earlier phylogenetic results, some serious revision is likely in order,
but exactly what is very unclear). The placement of bees within Apoidea as sister
to Crabronidae and Sphecidae (other groups of wasps, in case you're not familiar with
them) is incontrovertible. No matter how many genes you have, you cannot draw any
kind of sweeping conclusions from two conflicting trees with an extremely shallow
It's extremely disappointing that not only the authors but the reviewers failed to
notice the lack of taxonomic understanding evidenced here.
BioMed Central Ltd unless otherwise stated. Part of Springer Science+Business Media.