The power and limitations of species tree-aware phylogenetics

      Species tree-aware phylogenetic methods model how gene trees are generated along the species tree by a series of evolutionary events, including the duplication, transfer and loss of genes. Over the past ten years these methods have emerged as a powerful tool for inferring and rooting gene and species trees, inferring ancestral gene repertoires, and studying the processes of gene and genome evolution. However, these methods are complex and can be more difficult to use than traditional phylogenetic approaches. Method development is rapid, and it can be difficult to decide between approaches and interpret results. Here, we review ALE and GeneRax, two popular packages for reconciling gene and species trees, explaining how they work, how results can be interpreted, and providing a tutorial for practical analysis. It was recently suggested that reconciliation-based estimates of duplication and transfer frequencies are unreliable. We evaluate this criticism and find that, provided parameters are estimated from the data rather than being fixed based on prior assumptions, reconciliation-based inferences are in good agreement with the literature, recovering variation in gene duplication and transfer frequencies across lineages consistent with the known biology of studied clades. For example, published datasets support the view that transfers greatly outnumber duplications in most prokaryotic lineages. We conclude by discussing some limitations of current models and prospects for future progress.
        Significance statement
        Evolutionary trees provide a framework for understanding the history of life and organising biodiversity. In this review, we discuss some recent progress on statistical methods that allow us to combine information from many different genes within the framework of an overarching phylogenetic species tree. We review the advantages and uses of these methods and discuss case studies where they have been used to resolve deep branches within the tree of life. We conclude with the limitations of current methods and suggest how they might be overcome in the future.

Citation: biorxiv;2023.03.17.533068v1,[Preprint]

Date Published: 17th Mar 2023

Registered Mode: by DOI

Authors: Tom A. Williams, Adrian A. Davin, Benoit Morel, Lénárd L. Szánthó, Anja Spang, Alexandros Stamatakis, Philip Hugenholtz, Gergely J. Szöllősi

Williams, T. A., Davin, A. A., Morel, B., Szánthó, L. L., Spang, A., Stamatakis, A., Hugenholtz, P., & Szöllősi, G. J. (2023). The power and limitations of species tree-aware phylogenetics. In []. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

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Created: 2nd Jan 2024 at 18:22

Last updated: 5th Mar 2024 at 21:25

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