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Mol Biol Evol. 2012 Oct;29(10):3131-42. Epub 2012 Apr 13.

Maximum likelihood implementation of an isolation-with-migration model with three species for testing speciation with gene flow.

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School of Mathematical Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China.


We implement an isolation with migration model for three species, with migration occurring between two closely related species while an out-group species is used to provide further information concerning gene trees and model parameters. The model is implemented in the likelihood framework for analyzing multilocus genomic sequence alignments, with one sequence sampled from each of the three species. The prior distribution of gene tree topology and branch lengths at every locus is calculated using a Markov chain characterization of the genealogical process of coalescent and migration, which integrates over the histories of migration events analytically. The likelihood function is calculated by integrating over branch lengths in the gene trees (coalescent times) numerically. We analyze the model to study the gene tree-species tree mismatch probability and the time to the most recent common ancestor at a locus. The model is used to construct a likelihood ratio test (LRT) of speciation with gene flow. We conduct computer simulations to evaluate the LRT and found that the test is in general conservative, with the false positive rate well below the significance level. For the test to have substantial power, hundreds of loci are needed. Application of the test to a human-chimpanzee-gorilla genomic data set suggests gene flow around the time of speciation of the human and the chimpanzee.

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