Gene trees and species trees are not the same

Trends Ecol Evol. 2001 Jul 1;16(7):358-364. doi: 10.1016/s0169-5347(01)02203-0.


The relationship between species is usually represented as a bifurcating tree with the branching points representing speciation events. The ancestry of genes taken from these species can also be represented as a tree, with the branching points representing ancestral genes. The time back to the branching points, and even the branching order, can be different between the two trees. This possibility is widely recognized, but the discrepancies are often thought to be small. A different picture is emerging from new empirical evidence, particularly that based on multiple loci or on surveys with a wide geographical scope. The discrepancies must be taken into account when estimating the timing of speciation events, especially the more recent branches. On the positive side, the different timings at different loci provide information about the ancestral populations.