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Evolutionary Bioinformatics

RY-Coding and Non-Homogeneous Models Can Ameliorate the Maximum-Likelihood Inferences From Nucleotide Sequence Data with Parallel Compositional Heterogeneity

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Evolutionary Bioinformatics 2012:8 357-371

Original Research

Published on 25 Jun 2012

DOI: 10.4137/EBO.S9017


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Abstract

In phylogenetic analyses of nucleotide sequences, ‘homogeneous’ substitution models, which assume the stationarity of base composition across a tree, are widely used, albeit individual sequences may bear distinctive base frequencies. In the worst-case scenario, a homogeneous model-based analysis can yield an artifactual union of two distantly related sequences that achieved similar base frequencies in parallel. Such potential difficulty can be countered by two approaches, ‘RY-coding’ and ‘non-homogeneous’ models. The former approach converts four bases into purine and pyrimidine to normalize base frequencies across a tree, while the heterogeneity in base frequency is explicitly incorporated in the latter approach. The two approaches have been applied to real-world sequence data; however, their basic properties have not been fully examined by pioneering simulation studies. Here, we assessed the performances of the maximum-likelihood analyses incorporating RY-coding and a non-homogeneous model (RY-coding and non-homogeneous analyses) on simulated data with parallel convergence to similar base composition. Both RY-coding and non-homogeneous analyses showed superior performances compared with homogeneous model-based analyses. Curiously, the performance of RY-coding analysis appeared to be significantly affected by a setting of the substitution process for sequence simulation relative to that of non-homogeneous analysis. The performance of a non-homogeneous analysis was also validated by analyzing a real-world sequence data set with significant base heterogeneity.



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