Establishing a Trustworthy First Approximation for Evolutionary Distances

dc.contributor.advisorChook, Yuh Minen
dc.contributor.committeeMemberOtwinowski, Zbyszeken
dc.contributor.committeeMemberGrishin, Nick V.en
dc.contributor.committeeMemberHooper, Lora V.en
dc.contributor.committeeMemberJaqaman, Khulouden
dc.creatorBromberg, Raquelen
dc.creator.orcid0000-0003-3526-6362 2016
dc.description.abstractAdvances in sequencing have generated a large number of complete genomes. Traditionally, phylogenetic analysis relies on alignments of orthologs, but defining orthologs and separating them from paralogs is a complex task that may not always be suited to the large datasets of the future. An alternative to traditional, alignment-based approaches are whole-genome, alignment-free methods. These methods are scalable and require minimal manual intervention. I developed SlopeTree, a new alignment-free method that estimates evolutionary distances by measuring the decay of exact sub-sequence matches as a function of match length. SlopeTree corrects for horizontal gene transfer, for composition variation and low complexity sequences, and for branch-length nonlinearity caused by multiple mutations at the same site. SlopeTree also includes several optional features for removing mobile elements from proteomes, for reducing proteomes to their conserved core, for automatically identifying poor quality proteomes in large inputs, and for explicitly identifying pairs of organisms that have horizontally transferred genes and then identifying those genes. I tested SlopeTree on large and diverse sets of bacteria and archaea, and I also applied it at the strain level. I compared the SlopeTree trees to the NCBI taxonomy, to trees based on concatenated alignments, and to trees produced by other alignment-free methods. The results were consistent with current knowledge about prokaryotic evolution. I assessed differences in tree topology over different methods and settings and found that the majority of bacteria and archaea have a core set of proteins that evolves by descent. In trees built from complete genomes rather than from sets of core genes, I observed some grouping by phenotype rather than phylogeny. In general, SlopeTree generates sensible topologies which are relatively stable between whole proteome and reduced proteome inputs, which validates the concept of species and phyla as having a core proteome evolving by descent, but not necessarily coevolving with the ribosome and its proteins.en
dc.subjectComputational Biologyen
dc.subjectGene Transfer, Horizontalen
dc.subjectGenome, Archaealen
dc.subjectGenome, Bacterialen
dc.titleEstablishing a Trustworthy First Approximation for Evolutionary Distancesen
dc.type.materialtexten School of Biomedical Sciencesen Biophysicsen Southwestern Medical Centeren of Philosophyen


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