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Bioinformatics. 2000 Apr;16(4):395-9.

Estimating the rate of molecular evolution: incorporating non-contemporaneous sequences into maximum likelihood phylogenies.

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Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.



TipDate is a program that will use sequences that have been isolated at different dates to estimate their rate of molecular evolution. The program provides a maximum likelihood estimate of the rate and also the associated date of the most recent common ancestor of the sequences, under a model which assumes a constant rate of substitution (molecular clock) but which accommodates the dates of isolation. Confidence intervals for these parameters are also estimated.


The approach was applied to a sample of 17 dengue virus serotype 4 sequences, isolated at dates ranging from 1956 to 1994. The rate of substitution for this serotype was estimated to be 7.91 x 10(-4) substitutions per site per year (95% confidence intervals of 6.07 x 10(-4), 9.86 x 10(-4)). This is compatible with a date of 1922 (95% confidence intervals of 1900-1936) for the most recent common ancestor of these sequences.


TipDate can be obtained by WWW from http://evolve.zoo. The package includes the source code, manual and example files. Both UNIX and Apple Macintosh versions are available from the same site.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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