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      Species Tree Inference with BPP Using Genomic Sequences and the Multispecies Coalescent

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          The multispecies coalescent provides a natural framework for accommodating ancestral genetic polymorphism and coalescent processes that can cause different genomic regions to have different genealogical histories. The Bayesian program BPP includes a full-likelihood implementation of the multispecies coalescent, using transmodel Markov chain Monte Carlo to calculate the posterior probabilities of different species trees. BPP is suitable for analyzing multilocus sequence data sets and it accommodates the heterogeneity of gene trees (both the topology and branch lengths) among loci and gene tree uncertainties due to limited phylogenetic information at each locus. Here, we provide a practical guide to the use of BPP in species tree estimation. BPP is a command-line program that runs on linux, macosx, and windows. This protocol shows how to use both BPP 3.4 ( and BPP 4.0 (

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          Most cited references 33

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          Maximum likelihood phylogenetic estimation from DNA sequences with variable rates over sites: approximate methods.

           Q. Z. Yang (1994)
          Two approximate methods are proposed for maximum likelihood phylogenetic estimation, which allow variable rates of substitution across nucleotide sites. Three data sets with quite different characteristics were analyzed to examine empirically the performance of these methods. The first, called the "discrete gamma model," uses several categories of rates to approximate the gamma distribution, with equal probability for each category. The mean of each category is used to represent all the rates falling in the category. The performance of this method is found to be quite good, and four such categories appear to be sufficient to produce both an optimum, or near-optimum fit by the model to the data, and also an acceptable approximation to the continuous distribution. The second method, called "fixed-rates model", classifies sites into several classes according to their rates predicted assuming the star tree. Sites in different classes are then assumed to be evolving at these fixed rates when other tree topologies are evaluated. Analyses of the data sets suggest that this method can produce reasonable results, but it seems to share some properties of a least-squares pairwise comparison; for example, interior branch lengths in nonbest trees are often found to be zero. The computational requirements of the two methods are comparable to that of Felsenstein's (1981, J Mol Evol 17:368-376) model, which assumes a single rate for all the sites.
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            Genetic history of an archaic hominin group from Denisova Cave in Siberia.

            Using DNA extracted from a finger bone found in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia, we have sequenced the genome of an archaic hominin to about 1.9-fold coverage. This individual is from a group that shares a common origin with Neanderthals. This population was not involved in the putative gene flow from Neanderthals into Eurasians; however, the data suggest that it contributed 4-6% of its genetic material to the genomes of present-day Melanesians. We designate this hominin population 'Denisovans' and suggest that it may have been widespread in Asia during the Late Pleistocene epoch. A tooth found in Denisova Cave carries a mitochondrial genome highly similar to that of the finger bone. This tooth shares no derived morphological features with Neanderthals or modern humans, further indicating that Denisovans have an evolutionary history distinct from Neanderthals and modern humans.
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              Gene tree discordance, phylogenetic inference and the multispecies coalescent.

              The field of phylogenetics is entering a new era in which trees of historical relationships between species are increasingly inferred from multilocus and genomic data. A major challenge for incorporating such large amounts of data into inference of species trees is that conflicting genealogical histories often exist in different genes throughout the genome. Recent advances in genealogical modeling suggest that resolving close species relationships is not quite as simple as applying more data to the problem. Here we discuss the complexities of genealogical discordance and review the issues that new methods for multilocus species tree inference will need to address to account successfully for naturally occurring genomic variability in evolutionary histories.

                Author and article information

                Role: Associate Editor
                Mol Biol Evol
                Mol. Biol. Evol
                Molecular Biology and Evolution
                Oxford University Press
                October 2018
                23 July 2018
                23 July 2018
                : 35
                : 10
                : 2585-2593
                [1 ]Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, London, United Kingdom
                [2 ]Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of California, Davis, CA
                Author notes
                Corresponding authors: E-mails: brannala@ ; z.yang@ .
                © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Page count
                Pages: 9
                Funded by: Biotechnological and Biological Sciences Research Council
                Award ID: BB/P006493/1

                Molecular biology

                species tree inference, multispecies coalescent, mcmc, bpp


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