Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Network of Australian marsupials

In the literature, phylogenetic trees often appear even when the paper is discussing non-tree evolutionary histories.

A case in point is the paper by: Susanne Gallus, Axel Janke, Vikas Kumar, Maria A. Nilsson (2015) Disentangling the relationship of the Australian marsupial orders using retrotransposon and evolutionary network analyses. Genome Biology and Evolution, in press.

The authors discuss the relationship between the four Australian marsupial orders, and use data from transposable element (retrotransposon) insertions for resolving the inter- and intra-ordinal relationships of the Australian and South American orders. They plot the retrotransposon presence/absence onto a tree derived from alignments of 28 nuclear gene fragments. This is shown in the first figure, with the retrotransposons indicated as dots on the internal branches.

For comparison, the next figure is a Median-Joining network based on the presence/absence of the retrotransposons.

With the exception of the Monito del monte, Shrew opossum and Western quoll, the network matches the basic tree structure. However, it emphasizes more strongly the fact that the retrotransposons do not resolve the relationships among the Marsupial orders. As the authors note:
The retrotransposon insertions support three conflicting topologies regarding Peramelemorphia, Dasyuromorphia and Notoryctemorphia, indicating that the split between the three orders may be best understood as a network ...The rapid divergences left conflicting phylogenetic information in the genome possibly generated by incomplete lineage sorting or introgressive hybridisation, leaving the relationship among Australian marsupial orders unresolvable as a bifurcating process million years later.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Phylogenetic network of pairwise alignment methods

Phylogenetic networks can be used to illustrate the history of any set of objects or concepts, provided that this history is a divergent one (ie. the history is not simply the transformation of objects through time).

Since I have recently been writing about sequence alignments, it is worthwhile to show an example of applying a network to sequence alignment programs. This comes from the paper by Chaisson MJ, Tesler G (2012) Mapping single molecule sequencing reads using basic local alignment with successive refinement (BLASR): application and theory. BMC Bioinformatics 13: 238.

The authors discuss programs that map reads from a sample genome onto a reference sequence. They note: "the relationship between many existing alignment methods is qualitatively illustrated in the figure."

Their legend reads:
The applications / corresponding computational restrictions shown are: (green) short pairwise alignment / detailed edit model; (yellow) database search / divergent homology detection; (red) whole genome alignment / alignment of long sequences with structural rearrangements; and (blue) short read mapping / rapid alignment of massive numbers of short sequences. Although solely illustrative, methods with more similar data structures or algorithmic approaches are on closer branches. The BLASR method combines data structures from short read alignment with optimization methods from whole genome alignment.
The reticulation refers to their new program, which "maps reads using coarse alignment methods developed during WGA [whole genome alignment] studies, while speeding up these methods by using the advanced data structures employed in many NGS [next generation sequencing] mapping studies."