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Brief Bioinform. 2012 Jan;13(1):122-34. doi: 10.1093/bib/bbr014. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

The impact of taxon sampling on phylogenetic inference: a review of two decades of controversy.

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Center for Clinical and Translational Science, 89 Beaumont Avenue, Given Courtyard N309, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.


Over the past two decades, there has been a long-standing debate about the impact of taxon sampling on phylogenetic inference. Studies have been based on both real and simulated data sets, within actual and theoretical contexts, and using different inference methods, to study the impact of taxon sampling. In some cases, conflicting conclusions have been drawn for the same data set. The main questions explored in studies to date have been about the effects of using sparse data, adding new taxa, including more characters from genome sequences and using different (or concatenated) locus regions. These questions can be reduced to more fundamental ones about the assessment of data quality and the design guidelines of taxon sampling in phylogenetic inference experiments. This review summarizes progress to date in understanding the impact of taxon sampling on the accuracy of phylogenetic analysis.

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