Lemer, S.; Bieler, R.; Giribet, G. (2019). Resolving the relationships of clams and cockles: dense transcriptome sampling drastically improves the bivalve tree of life. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 286 (1896): 20182684.
Bivalvia has been the subject of extensive recent phylogenetic work to attempt resolving either the backbone of the bivalve tree using transcriptomic data, or the tips using morpho-anatomical data and up to five genetic markers. Yet the first approach lacked decisive taxon sampling and the second failed to resolve many interfamilial relationships, especially within the diverse clade Imparidentia. Here we combine dense taxon sampling with 108 deep-sequenced Illumina-based transcriptomes to provide resolution in nodes that required additional study. We designed specific data matrices to address the poorly resolved relationships within Imparidentia. Our results support the overall backbone of the bivalve tree, the monophyly of Bivalvia and all its main nodes, although the monophyly of Protobranchia remains less clear. Likewise, the inter-relationships of the six main bivalve clades were fully supported. Within Imparidentia, resolution increases when analysing Imparidentia-specific matrices. Lucinidae, Thyasiridae and Gastrochaenida represent three early branches. Gastrochaenida is sister group to all remaining imparidentians, which divide into six orders. Neoheterodontei is always fully supported, and consists of Sphaeriida, Myida and Venerida, with the latter now also containing Mactroidea, Ungulinoidea and Chamidae, a family particularly difficult to place in earlier work. Overall, our study, by using densely sampled transcriptomes, provides the best-resolved bivalve phylogeny to date.