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Statistics Seminar

Speaker: Bui Quang Minh (Research School of Biology, Australian National University)

Title: "GHOST: Recovering Historical Signal from Heterotachously-evolved Sequence Alignments"

Abstract: Molecular sequence data that have evolved under the influence of heterotachous evolutionary processes are known to mislead phylogenetic inference. We introduce the General Heterogeneous evolution On a Single Topology (GHOST) model of sequence evolution, implemented under a maximum-likelihood framework in the phylogenetic program IQ-TREE (http://www.iqtree.org). Our simulations show that using the GHOST model, IQ-TREE can accurately recover the tree topology, branch lengths and substitution model parameters from heterotachously-evolved sequences. We apply our model to an electric fish dataset and identify a subtle component of the historical signal, linked to the previously established convergent evolution of the electric organ in two geographically distinct lineages of electric fish. We compare inference under the GHOST model to partitioning by codon position and show that, owing to the minimization of model constraints, the GHOST model is able to offer unique biological insights when applied to empirical data.

LOCATION: Mona Campbell Building, Room1108
1459 Lemarchant St, Halifax, NS B3H 3P8


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