Nevin Manimala Statistics

Species Tree Estimation and the Impact of Gene Loss Following Whole-Genome Duplication

Syst Biol. 2022 Jun 11:syac040. doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syac040. Online ahead of print.


Whole-genome duplication (WGD) occurs broadly and repeatedly across the history of eukaryotes, and is recognized as a prominent evolutionary force, especially in plants. Immediately following WGD, most genes are present in two copies as paralogs. Due to this redundancy, one copy of a paralog pair commonly undergoes pseudogenization and is eventually lost. When speciation occurs shortly after WGD, however, differential loss of paralogs may lead to spurious phylogenetic inference resulting from the inclusion of pseudoorthologs-paralogous genes mistakenly identified as orthologs because they are present in single copes within each sampled species. The influence and impact of including pseudoorthologs versus true orthologs as a result of gene extinction (or incomplete laboratory sampling) is only recently gaining empirical attention in the phylogenomics community. Moreover, few studies have yet to investigate this phenomenon in an explicit coalescent framework. Here, using mathematical models, numerous simulated data sets, and two newly assembled empirical data sets, we assess the effect of pseudoorthologs on species tree estimation under varying degrees of incomplete lineage sorting (ILS) and differential gene loss scenarios following WGD. When gene loss occurs along the terminal branches of the species tree, alignment-based (BPP) and gene-tree-based (ASTRAL, MP-EST, and STAR) coalescent methods are adversely affected as the degree of ILS increases. This can be greatly improved by sampling a sufficiently large number of genes. Under the same circumstances, however, concatenation methods consistently estimate incorrect species trees as the number of genes increases. Additionally, pseudoorthologs can greatly mislead species tree inference when gene loss occurs along the internal branches of the species tree. Here, both coalescent and concatenation methods yield inconsistent results. These results underscore the importance of understanding the influence of pseudoorthologs in the phylogenomics era.

PMID:35689633 | DOI:10.1093/sysbio/syac040

By Nevin Manimala

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