Phylogenetic analysis of the insect order Odonata using 28S and 16S rDNA sequences: a comparison between data sets with different evolutionary rates


Eisuke Hasegawa, Department of Ecology and Systematics, Graduate School of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, Kita-ku, Sapporo, 060-8587 Japan. Email:


Molecular phylogenetic analyses were conducted for the insect order Odonata with a focus on testing the effectiveness of a slowly evolving gene to resolve deep branching and also to examine: (i) the monophyly of damselflies (the suborder Zygoptera); and (ii) the phylogenetic position of the relict dragonfly Epiophlebia superstes. Two independent molecular sources were used to reconstruct phylogeny: the 16S rRNA gene on the mitochondrial genome and the 28S rRNA gene on the nuclear genome. A comparison of the sequences showed that the obtained 28S rDNA sequences have evolved at a much slower rate than the 16S rDNA, and that the former is better than the latter for resolving deep branching in the Odonata. Both molecular sources indicated that the Zygoptera are paraphyletic, and when a reasonable weighting for among-site rate variation was enforced for the 16S rDNA data set, E. superstes was placed between the two remaining major suborders, namely, Zygoptera and Anisoptera (dragonflies). Character reconstruction analysis suggests that multiple hits at the rapidly evolving sites in the 16S rDNA degenerated the phylogenetic signals of the data set.