A potential shortcoming of concatenation methods for species tree estimation is their failure to account for incomplete lineage sorting. Coalescent methods address this problem but make various assumptions that, if violated, can result in worse performance than concatenation. Given the challenges of analyzing DNA sequences with both concatenation and coalescent methods, retroelement insertions (RIs) have emerged as powerful phylogenomic markers for species tree estimation. Here, we show that two recently proposed quartet-based methods, SDPquartets and ASTRAL_BP, are statistically consistent estimators of the unrooted species tree topology under the coalescent when RIs follow a neutral infinite-sites model of mutation and the expected number of new RIs per generation is constant across the species tree. The accuracy of these (and other) methods for inferring species trees from RIs has yet to be assessed on simulated data sets, where the true species tree topology is known. Therefore, we evaluated eight methods given RIs simulated from four model species trees, all of which have short branches and at least three of which are in the anomaly zone. In our simulation study, ASTRAL_BP and SDPquartets always recovered the correct species tree topology when given a sufficiently large number of RIs, as predicted. A distance-based method (ASTRID_BP) and Dollo parsimony also performed well in recovering the species tree topology. In contrast, unordered, polymorphism, and Camin–Sokal parsimony (as well as an approach based on MDC) typically fail to recover the correct species tree topology in anomaly zone situations with more than four ingroup taxa. Of the methods studied, only ASTRAL_BP automatically estimates internal branch lengths (in coalescent units) and support values (i.e., local posterior probabilities). We examined the accuracy of branch length estimation, finding that estimated lengths were accurate for short branches but upwardly biased otherwise. This led us to derive the maximum likelihood (branch length) estimate for when RIs are given as input instead of binary gene trees; this corrected formula produced accurate estimates of branch lengths in our simulation study provided that a sufficiently large number of RIs were given as input. Lastly, we evaluated the impact of data quantity on species tree estimation by repeating the above experiments with input sizes varying from 100 to 100,000 parsimony-informative RIs. We found that, when given just 1000 parsimony-informative RIs as input, ASTRAL_BP successfully reconstructed major clades (i.e., clades separated by branches $>0.3$ coalescent units) with high support and identified rapid radiations (i.e., shorter connected branches), although not their precise branching order. The local posterior probability was effective for controlling false positive branches in these scenarios. [Coalescence; incomplete lineage sorting; Laurasiatheria; Palaeognathae; parsimony; polymorphism parsimony; retroelement insertions; species trees; transposon.]
Branch lengths and topology of a species tree are essential in most downstream analyses, including estimation of diversification dates, characterization of selection, understanding adaptation, and comparative genomics. Modern phylogenomic analyses often use methods that account for the heterogeneity of evolutionary histories across the genome due to processes such as incomplete lineage sorting. However, these methods typically do not generate branch lengths in units that are usable by downstream applications, forcing phylogenomic analyses to resort to alternative shortcuts such as estimating branch lengths by concatenating gene alignments into a supermatrix. Yet, concatenation and other available approaches for estimating branch lengths fail to address heterogeneity across the genome.
In this article, we derive expected values of gene tree branch lengths in substitution units under an extension of the multispecies coalescent (MSC) model that allows substitutions with varying rates across the species tree. We present CASTLES, a new technique for estimating branch lengths on the species tree from estimated gene trees that uses these expected values, and our study shows that CASTLES improves on the most accurate prior methods with respect to both speed and accuracy.
CASTLES is available at https://github.com/ytabatabaee/CASTLES.
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Oxford University Press
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. i185-i193
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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