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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e22783. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022783. Epub 2011 Aug 5.

Addressing inter-gene heterogeneity in maximum likelihood phylogenomic analysis: yeasts revisited.

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Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.


Phylogenomic approaches to the resolution of inter-species relationships have become well established in recent years. Often these involve concatenation of many orthologous genes found in the respective genomes followed by analysis using standard phylogenetic models. Genome-scale data promise increased resolution by minimising sampling error, yet are associated with well-known but often inappropriately addressed caveats arising through data heterogeneity and model violation. These can lead to the reconstruction of highly-supported but incorrect topologies. With the aim of obtaining a species tree for 18 species within the ascomycetous yeasts, we have investigated the use of appropriate evolutionary models to address inter-gene heterogeneities and the scalability and validity of supermatrix analysis as the phylogenetic problem becomes more difficult and the number of genes analysed approaches truly phylogenomic dimensions. We have extended a widely-known early phylogenomic study of yeasts by adding additional species to increase diversity and augmenting the number of genes under analysis. We have investigated sophisticated maximum likelihood analyses, considering not only a concatenated version of the data but also partitioned models where each gene constitutes a partition and parameters are free to vary between the different partitions (thereby accounting for variation in the evolutionary processes at different loci). We find considerable increases in likelihood using these complex models, arguing for the need for appropriate models when analyzing phylogenomic data. Using these methods, we were able to reconstruct a well-supported tree for 18 ascomycetous yeasts spanning about 250 million years of evolution.

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