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Science. 1992 Jan 31;255(5044):589-92.

Experimental phylogenetics: generation of a known phylogeny.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Texas, Austin 78712.


Although methods of phylogenetic estimation are used routinely in comparative biology, direct tests of these methods are hampered by the lack of known phylogenies. Here a system based on serial propagation of bacteriophage T7 in the presence of a mutagen was used to create the first completely known phylogeny. Restriction-site maps of the terminal lineages were used to infer the evolutionary history of the experimental lines for comparison to the known history and actual ancestors. The five methods used to reconstruct branching pattern all predicted the correct topology but varied in their predictions of branch lengths; one method also predicts ancestral restriction maps and was found to be greater than 98 percent accurate.

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