New paper in Journal of Heredity


The de novo genome of the Black-necked Snakefly (Venustoraphidia nigricollis Albarda, 1891): A resource to study the evolution of living fossils

Wolf M, Greve C, Schell T, Janke A, Schmitt T, Pauls SU, Aspöck H & Aspöck U. 2023.
Journal of Heredity, Volume 115, Issue 1, January 2024, Pages 112–119, . Published 21 November 2023


Snakeflies (Raphidioptera) are the smallest order of holometabolous insects that have kept their distinct and name-giving appearance since the Mesozoic, probably since the Jurassic, and possibly even since their emergence in the Carboniferous, more than 300 million years ago. Despite their interesting nature and numerous publications on their morphology, taxonomy, systematics, and biogeography, snakeflies have never received much attention from the general public, and only a few studies were devoted to their molecular biology. Due to this lack of molecular data, it is therefore unknown, if the conserved morphological nature of these living fossils translates to conserved genomic structures. Here, we present the first genome of the species and of the entire order of Raphidioptera. The final genome assembly has a total length of 669 Mbp and reached a high continuity with an N50 of 5.07 Mbp. Further quality controls also indicate a high completeness and no meaningful contamination. The newly generated data was used in a large-scaled phylogenetic analysis of snakeflies using shared orthologous sequences. Quartet score and gene concordance analyses revealed high amounts of conflicting signals within this group that might speak for substantial incomplete lineage sorting and introgression after their presumed re-radiation after the asteroid impact 66 million years ago. Overall, this reference genome will be a door-opening dataset for many future research applications, and we demonstrated its utility in a phylogenetic analysis that provides new insights into the evolution of this group of living fossils.