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Mol Biol Evol. 2002 May;19(5):708-17.

Evaluation of methods for detecting recombination from DNA sequences: empirical data.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA.


The performance of 14 different recombination detection methods was evaluated by analyzing several empirical data sets where the presence of recombination has been suggested or where recombination is assumed to be absent. In general, recombination methods seem to be more powerful with increasing levels of divergence, but different methods showed distinct performance. Substitution methods using summary statistics gave more accurate inferences than most phylogenetic methods. However, definitive conclusions about the presence of recombination should not be derived on the basis of a single method. Performance patterns observed from the analysis of real data sets coincided very well with previous computer simulation results. Previous recombination inferences from some of the data sets analyzed here should be reconsidered. In particular, recombination in HIV-1 seems to be much more widespread than previously thought. This finding might have serious implications on vaccine development and on the reliability of previous inferences of HIV-1 evolutionary history and dynamics.

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