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Mol Biol Evol. 1997 Jul;14(7):717-24.

Bayesian phylogenetic inference using DNA sequences: a Markov Chain Monte Carlo Method.

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  • 1Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3140, USA.


An improved Bayesian method is presented for estimating phylogenetic trees using DNA sequence data. The birth-death process with species sampling is used to specify the prior distribution of phylogenies and ancestral speciation times, and the posterior probabilities of phylogenies are used to estimate the maximum posterior probability (MAP) tree. Monte Carlo integration is used to integrate over the ancestral speciation times for particular trees. A Markov Chain Monte Carlo method is used to generate the set of trees with the highest posterior probabilities. Methods are described for an empirical Bayesian analysis, in which estimates of the speciation and extinction rates are used in calculating the posterior probabilities, and a hierarchical Bayesian analysis, in which these parameters are removed from the model by an additional integration. The Markov Chain Monte Carlo method avoids the requirement of our earlier method for calculating MAP trees to sum over all possible topologies (which limited the number of taxa in an analysis to about five). The methods are applied to analyze DNA sequences for nine species of primates, and the MAP tree, which is identical to a maximum-likelihood estimate of topology, has a probability of approximately 95%.

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