Phylogenomic analyses reveal novel relationships among snake families

Jeffrey W. Streicher, John J. Wiens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Snakes are a diverse and important group of vertebrates. However, relationships among the major groups of snakes have remained highly uncertain, with recent studies hypothesizing very different (and typically weakly supported) relationships. Here, we address family-level snake relationships with new phylogenomic data from 3776 nuclear loci from ultraconserved elements (1.40 million aligned base pairs, 52% missing data overall) sampled from 29 snake species that together represent almost all families, a dataset ~100 times larger than used in previous studies. We found relatively strong support from species-tree analyses (NJst) for most relationships, including three largely novel clades: (1) a clade uniting the boas, pythons and their relatives, (2) a clade placing cylindrophiids and uropeltids with this clade, and (3) a clade uniting bolyeriids (Round Island boas) with pythonids and their relatives (xenopeltids and loxocemids). Relationships among families of advanced snakes (caenophidians) were also strongly supported. The results show the potential for phylogenomic analyses to resolve difficult groups, but also show a surprising sensitivity of the analyses to the inclusion or exclusion of outgroups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-169
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Phylogenomics
  • Reptiles
  • Serpentes
  • Snakes
  • Species-tree methods
  • UCE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Phylogenomic analyses reveal novel relationships among snake families'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this