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Syst Biol. 1997 Mar;46(1):69-74.

Is the Felsenstein zone a fly trap?

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Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Although long-branch attraction, the incorrect grouping of long lineages in a phylogeny because of systematic error, has been identified as a potential source of error in phylogenetic analysis for almost two decades, no empirical examples of the phenomenon exist. Here, I outline several criteria for identifying long-branch attraction and apply these criteria to 18S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequence data for 13 insects. Parsimony and minimum evolution with p distances group the two longest branches together (those leading to Strepsiptera and Diptera). Simulation studies show that the long branches are long enough to attract. When a tree is assumed in which Strepsiptera and Diptera are separated and many data sets are simulated for that tree (using the parameter estimates for that tree for the original data), parsimony analysis of the simulated data consistently groups Strepsiptera and Diptera. Analyses of the 18S rDNA sequences using methods that are less sensitive to the problem of long-branch attraction estimate trees in which the long branches are separate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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