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Archived Comments for: Transcriptome analyses of primitively eusocial wasps reveal novel insights into the evolution of sociality and the origin of alternative phenotypes

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  1. hard to take...

    Karl Magnacca, University of Hawaii

    26 February 2013

    As a systematist, reading this paper made me feel like banging my head against a wall. I first saw a short article about it in Science Daily and laughed at the gross mischaracterization of Hymenoptera systematics portrayed there as typical of science journalism. Then I came here and was surprisedto find that they were largely verbatim quotes from the paper.

    To list a few: Aculeata contains much more than just Vespoidea, including Apoidea (aka Sphecoidea) and Chrysidoidea. Vespoidea contains much more than just Vespidae and Formicidae; while it may be subject to change (possibly excluding ants), it will not be dropped due to paraphyly but restricted to the closest relatives of Vespidae (given the earlier phylogenetic results, some serious revision is likely in order, but exactly what is very unclear). The placement of bees within Apoidea as sister to Crabronidae and Sphecidae (other groups of wasps, in case you're not familiar with them) is incontrovertible. No matter how many genes you have, you cannot draw any kind of sweeping conclusions from two conflicting trees with an extremely shallow node.

    It's extremely disappointing that not only the authors but the reviewers failed to notice the lack of taxonomic understanding evidenced here.

    Competing interests


  2. Relative use of "sister group"

    Toni Gabaldon, Centre for Genomics Regulation (CRG)

    12 March 2013

    We use the term "sister group" in its relative sense.

    The use of the term "sister group" in phylogenetics is generally used in relation only to the taxa/lineages represented in the analysis, denoting as sister group the closest relative only among the groups included in the analysis. That is In the general case, two groups are sister groups if they share their most recent ancestral node among those in the phylogenetic tree. This differs from the use of the term by systematicists which tend to include all known lineages and define sister-group as the closest clade, but this use is also relative to what lineages are known/considered. Note that the impossibility to know all extinct lineages precludes us from using "sister group" in absolute terms.

    Competing interests

    I am one of the co-authors of the paper