Reticulate classification of mosaic microbial genomes using NeAT website

Methods Mol Biol. 2012;804:81-91. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-361-5_5.


The tree of life is the classical representation of the evolutionary relationships between existent species. A tree is appropriate to display the divergence of species through mutation, i.e., by vertical descent. However, lateral gene transfer (LGT) is excluded from such representations. When LGT contribution to genome evolution cannot be neglected (e.g., for prokaryotes and mobile genetic elements), the tree becomes misleading. Networks appear as an intuitive way to represent both vertical and horizontal relationships, while overlapping groups within such graphs are more suitable for their classification. Here, we describe a method to represent both vertical and horizontal relationships. We start with a set of genomes whose coded proteins have been grouped into families based on sequence similarity. Next, all pairs of genomes are compared, counting the number of proteins classified into the same family. From this comparison, we derive a weighted graph where genomes with a significant number of similar proteins are linked. Finally, we apply a two-step clustering of this graph to produce a classification where nodes can be assigned to multiple clusters. The procedure can be performed using the Network Analysis Tools (NeAT) website.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / classification*
  • Archaea / genetics
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteriophages / genetics
  • Classification / methods*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal / genetics*
  • Genomics / methods
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phylogeny*
  • Software*