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Seeing the wood for trees: analysing multiple alternative phylogenies

Monday 17th December 2007 - 11:30 to 11:50
INI Seminar Room 1
Session Chair: 
Vincent Moulton

Phylogenetic analysis very commonly produces several alternative trees for a given set of taxa. This can be due to having several, possibly conflicting, sources of information (such as different sets of orthologous genes) or as a result of the nature of the analytic method itself (for example, sampling a large number of trees from a posterior distribution). Faced with several alternative trees, biologists typically seek a single concensus phylogeny -- thereby discarding important information.

We review some recent approaches to dealing with alternative phylogenies that arise from a multivariate statistical view-point. We go on to describe a novel approach for comparing alternative phylogenies that is based on the idea of a "tree-of-trees": trees with similar topologies are clustered together in the same way that a single phylogeny clusters species with similar DNA sequences. The tree-of-trees is constructed in an analogous way to a most parsimonious tree for DNA data. We illustrate these ideas by applying our method to some simple data sets.

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University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons