Phylogenetic networks represent reticulate evolutionary histories. Statistical methods for their inference under the multispecies coalescent have recently been developed. A particularly powerful approach uses data that consist of bi-allelic markers (e.g. single nucleotide polymorphism data) and allows for exact likelihood computations of phylogenetic networks while numerically integrating over all possible gene trees per marker. While the approach has good accuracy in terms of estimating the network and its parameters, likelihood computations remain a major computational bottleneck and limit the method’s applicability.
In this article, we first demonstrate why likelihood computations of networks take orders of magnitude more time when compared to trees. We then propose an approach for inference of phylogenetic networks based on pseudo-likelihood using bi-allelic markers. We demonstrate the scalability and accuracy of phylogenetic network inference via pseudo-likelihood computations on simulated data. Furthermore, we demonstrate aspects of robustness of the method to violations in the underlying assumptions of the employed statistical model. Finally, we demonstrate the application of the method to biological data. The proposed method allows for analyzing larger datasets in terms of the numbers of taxa and reticulation events. While pseudo-likelihood had been proposed before for data consisting of gene trees, the work here usesmore »
The methods have been implemented in PhyloNet (http://bioinfocs.rice.edu/phylonet).