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Evol Bioinform Online. 2016 Jan 18;11(Suppl 2):11-7. doi: 10.4137/EBO.S30902. eCollection 2015.

Gene Tree Affects Inference of Sites Under Selection by the Branch-Site Test of Positive Selection.

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Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, Portugal.; Programa de Doutoramento em Biologia Computational (PDBC), Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, Portugal.
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, Portugal.


The branch-site test of positive selection is a standard approach to detect past episodic positive selection in a priori-specified branches of a gene phylogeny. Here, we ask if differences in the topology of the gene tree have any influence on the ability to infer positively selected sites. Using simulated sequences, we compare the results obtained for true and rearranged topologies. We find a strong relationship between "conflicting branch length," which occurs when the set of sequences that experiences selection for a given topology and foreground is changed, and the ability to predict positively selected sites. Moreover, by reanalyzing a previously published data set, we show that the choice of a gene tree also affects the results obtained for real-world sequences. This is the first study to demonstrate that tree topology has a clear effect on the inference of positive selection. We conclude that the choice of a gene tree is an important factor for the branch-site analysis of positive selection.


PAML; branch-site test; dN/dS; molecular evolution; positive selection

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