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How old are dragonflies and damselflies? Odonata (Insecta) transcriptomics resolve familial relationships

By Manpreet Kohli, Harald Letsch, Carola Greve, Olivier BĂ©thoux, Isabelle Deregnaucourt, Shanlin Liu, Xin Zhou, Alexander Donath, Christoph Mayer, Lars Podsiadlowski, Ryuichiro Machida, Oliver Niehuis, Jes Rust, Torsten Wappler, Xin Yu, Bernhard Misof, Jessica Ware

Posted 07 Jul 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.07.191718

Dragonflies and damselflies, representing the insect order Odonata, are among the earliest flying insects with living (extant) representatives. However, unravelling details of their long evolutionary history, such as egg laying (oviposition) strategies, is impeded by unresolved phylogenetic relationships, an issue particularly prevalent in damselfly families and fossil lineages. Here we present the first transcriptome-based phylogenetic reconstruction of Odonata, analyzing 2,980 protein-coding genes in 105 species representing nearly all of the orders families (except Austropetaliidae and Neopetaliidae). All damselfly families and most dragonfly families are recovered as monophyletic groups. Our Molecular clock estimates suggest that crown-Zygoptera (damselflies) and -Anisoptera (dragonflies) both arose during the late Triassic. Several of the observed long inner branches in our topology are indicative of the extinction of once flourishing lineages. We also find that exophytic egg laying behaviour with a reduced ovipositor evolved in certain dragonflies during the late Jurassic / early Cretaceous. Lastly, we find that certain fossils have an unexpected deterring impact in divergence dating analysis. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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