%0 Journal Article
%A Wiegert, Julius
%A Höhler, Dimitri
%A Haag, Julia
%A Stamatakis, Alexandros
%D 2024
%T Predicting Phylogenetic Bootstrap Values via Machine Learning
%X Estimating the statistical robustness of the inferred tree(s) constitutes an integral part of most phylogenetic analyses. Commonly, one computes and assigns a branch support value to each inner branch of the inferred phylogeny. The most widely used method for calculating branch support on trees inferred under Maximum Likelihood (ML) is the Standard, non-parametric Felsenstein Bootstrap Support (SBS). Due to the high computational cost of the SBS, a plethora of methods has been developed to approximate it, for instance, via the Rapid Bootstrap (RB) algorithm. There have also been attempts to devise faster, alternative support measures, such as the SH-aLRT (Shimodaira–Hasegawalike approximate Likelihood Ratio Test) or the UltraFast Bootstrap 2 (UFBoot2) method. Those faster alternatives exhibit some limitations, such as the need to assess model violations (UFBoot2) or meaningless low branch support intervals (SH-aLRT). Here, we present the Educated Bootstrap Guesser (EBG), a machine learning-based tool that predicts SBS branch support values for a given input phylogeny. EBG is on average 9.4 (σ = 5.5) times faster than UFBoot2. EBG-based SBS estimates exhibit a median absolute error of 5 when predicting SBS values between 0 and 100. Furthermore, EBG also provides uncertainty measures for all per-branch SBS predictions and thereby allows for a more rigorous and careful interpretation. EBG can predict SBS support values on a phylogeny comprising 1654 SARS-CoV2 genome sequences within 3 hours on a mid-class laptop. EBG is available under GNU GPL3.