Evolutionary history and divergence times of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) revealed through transcriptomics
Dragonflies and damselflies are among the earliest flying insects with extant representatives.
However, unraveling details of their long evolutionary history, such
as egg laying (oviposition) strategies, is impeded by unresolved phylogenetic relationships,
particularly in damselflies. Here we present a transcriptome-based
phylogenetic reconstruction of Odonata, analyzing 2,980 protein-coding genes
in 105 species representing nearly all the order’s families. All damselfly and
most dragonfly families are recovered as monophyletic. Our data suggest a sister
relationship between dragonfly families of Gomphidae and Petaluridae. According
to our divergence time estimates, both crown-Zygoptera and -Anisoptera
arose during the late Triassic. Egg-laying with a reduced ovipositor apparently
evolved in dragonflies during the late Jurassic/early Cretaceous. Lastly, we also
test the impact of fossil choice and placement, particularly, of the extinct fossil
species, Triassolestodes asiaticus, and Proterogomphus renateae on divergence
time estimates. We find placement of Proterogomphus renateae to be
much more impactful than Triassolestodes asiaticus.