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Mol Biol Evol. 2012 Feb;29(2):663-73. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msr220. Epub 2011 Sep 22.

ImOSM: intermittent evolution and robustness of phylogenetic methods.

Author information

1
Center for Integrative Bioinformatics Vienna, Max F. Perutz Laboratories, University of Vienna, Medical University of Vienna, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Vienna, Austria. minh.anh.nguyen@univie.ac.at

Abstract

Among the criteria to evaluate the performance of a phylogenetic method, robustness to model violation is of particular practical importance as complete a priori knowledge of evolutionary processes is typically unavailable. For studies of robustness in phylogenetic inference, a utility to add well-defined model violations to the simulated data would be helpful. We therefore introduce ImOSM, a tool to imbed intermittent evolution as model violation into an alignment. Intermittent evolution refers to extra substitutions occurring randomly on branches of a tree, thus changing alignment site patterns. This means that the extra substitutions are placed on the tree after the typical process of sequence evolution is completed. We then study the robustness of widely used phylogenetic methods: maximum likelihood (ML), maximum parsimony (MP), and a distance-based method (BIONJ) to various scenarios of model violation. Violation of rates across sites (RaS) heterogeneity and simultaneous violation of RaS and the transition/transversion ratio on two nonadjacent external branches hinder all the methods recovery of the true topology for a four-taxon tree. For an eight-taxon balanced tree, the violations cause each of the three methods to infer a different topology. Both ML and MP fail, whereas BIONJ, which calculates the distances based on the ML estimated parameters, reconstructs the true tree. Finally, we report that a test of model homogeneity and goodness of fit tests have enough power to detect such model violations. The outcome of the tests can help to actually gain confidence in the inferred trees. Therefore, we recommend using these tests in practical phylogenetic analyses.

PMID:
21940641
PMCID:
PMC3258038
DOI:
10.1093/molbev/msr220
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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