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Mol Biol Evol. 1992 May;9(3):537-51.

The consistency of several phylogeny-inference methods under varying evolutionary rates.

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Department of Chemistry, Florida State University, Tallahassee 32306.


A phylogenetic method is a consistent estimator of phylogeny if and only if it is guaranteed to give the correct tree, given that sufficient (possibly infinite) independent data are examined. The following methods are examined for consistency: UPGMA (unweighted pair-group method, averages), NJ (neighbor joining), MF (modified Farris), and P (parsimony). A two-parameter model of nucleotide sequence substitution is used, and the expected distribution of character states is calculated. Without perfect correction for superimposed substitutions, all four methods may be inconsistent if there is but one branch evolving at a faster rate than the other branches. Partial correction of observed distances improves the robustness of the NJ method to rate variation, and perfect correction makes the NJ method a consistent estimator for all combinations of rates that were examined. The sensitivity of all the methods to unequal rates varies over a wide range, so relative-rate tests are unlikely to be a reliable guide for accepting or rejecting phylogenies based on parsimony analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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