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1.  Remarkable convergent evolution in specialized parasitic Thecostraca (Crustacea) 
BMC Biology  2009;7:15.
The Thecostraca are arguably the most morphologically and biologically variable group within the Crustacea, including both suspension feeders (Cirripedia: Thoracica and Acrothoracica) and parasitic forms (Cirripedia: Rhizocephala, Ascothoracida and Facetotecta). Similarities between the metamorphosis found in the Facetotecta and Rhizocephala suggests a common evolutionary origin, but until now no comprehensive study has looked at the basic evolution of these thecostracan groups.
To this end, we collected DNA sequences from three nuclear genes [18S rRNA (2,305), 28S rRNA (2,402), Histone H3 (328)] and 41 larval characters in seven facetotectans, five ascothoracidans, three acrothoracicans, 25 rhizocephalans and 39 thoracicans (ingroup) and 12 Malacostraca and 10 Copepoda (outgroup). Maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian analyses showed the Facetotecta, Ascothoracida and Cirripedia each as monophyletic. The better resolved and highly supported DNA maximum likelihood and morphological-DNA Bayesian analysis trees depicted the main phylogenetic relationships within the Thecostraca as (Facetotecta, (Ascothoracida, (Acrothoracica, (Rhizocephala, Thoracica)))).
Our analyses indicate a convergent evolution of the very similar and highly reduced slug-shaped stages found during metamorphosis of both the Rhizocephala and the Facetotecta. This provides a remarkable case of convergent evolution and implies that the advanced endoparasitic mode of life known from the Rhizocephala and strongly indicated for the Facetotecta had no common origin. Future analyses are needed to determine whether the most recent common ancestor of the Thecostraca was free-living or some primitive form of ectoparasite.
PMCID: PMC2678073  PMID: 19374762
2.  Divergence and diversification in North American Psoraleeae (Fabaceae) due to climate change 
BMC Biology  2008;6:55.
Past studies in the legume family (Fabaceae) have uncovered several evolutionary trends including differential mutation and diversification rates across varying taxonomic levels. The legume tribe Psoraleeae is shown herein to exemplify these trends at the generic and species levels. This group includes a sizable diversification within North America dated at approximately 6.3 million years ago with skewed species distribution to the most recently derived genus, Pediomelum, suggesting a diversification rate shift. We estimate divergence dates of North American (NAm) Psoraleeae using Bayesian MCMC sampling in BEAST based on eight DNA regions (ITS, waxy, matK, trnD-trnT, trnL-trnF, trnK, trnS-trnG, and rpoB-trnC). We also test the hypothesis of a diversification rate shift within NAm Psoraleeae using topological and temporal methods. We investigate the impact of climate change on diversification in this group by (1) testing the hypothesis that a shift from mesic to xeric habitats acted as a key innovation and (2) investigating diversification rate shifts along geologic time, discussing the impact of Quaternary climate oscillations on diversification.
NAm Psoraleeae represents a recent, rapid radiation with several genera originating during the Pleistocene, 1 to 2 million years ago. A shift in diversification rate is supported by both methods with a 2.67-fold increase suggested around 2 million years ago followed by a 8.73-fold decrease 440,000 years ago. The hypothesis that a climate regime shift from mesic to xeric habitats drove increased diversification in affected taxa was not supported. Timing of the diversification rate increase supports the hypothesis that glaciation-induced climate changes during the Quaternary influenced diversification of the group. Nonrandom spatial diversification also exists, with greater species richness in the American Southwest.
This study outlines NAm Psoraleeae as a model example of a recent, rapid radiation. Diversification rate shifts in NAm Psoraleeae are not due to current climate regimes as represented by habitat, but instead to past global climate change resulting from Quaternary glaciations. NAm Psoraleeae diversification is a good example of how earthly dynamics including global climate change and topography work together to shape biodiversity.
PMCID: PMC2646706  PMID: 19091055

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