Genome-Wide Comparative Analysis of Phylogenetic Trees: The Prokaryotic Forest of Life

Methods Mol Biol. 2019;1910:241-269. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-9074-0_8.


Genome-wide comparison of phylogenetic trees is becoming an increasingly common approach in evolutionary genomics, and a variety of approaches for such comparison have been developed. In this article we present several methods for comparative analysis of large numbers of phylogenetic trees. To compare phylogenetic trees taking into account the bootstrap support for each internal branch, the boot-split distance (BSD) method is introduced as an extension of the previously developed split distance (SD) method for tree comparison. The BSD method implements the straightforward idea that comparison of phylogenetic trees can be made more robust by treating tree splits differentially depending on the bootstrap support. Approaches are also introduced for detecting treelike and netlike evolutionary trends in the phylogenetic Forest of Life (FOL), i.e., the entirety of the phylogenetic trees for conserved genes of prokaryotes. The principal method employed for this purpose includes mapping quartets of species onto trees to calculate the support of each quartet topology and so to quantify the tree and net contributions to the distances between species. We describe the applications methods used to analyze the FOL and the results obtained with these methods. These results support the concept of the Tree of Life (TOL) as a central evolutionary trend in the FOL as opposed to the traditional view of the TOL as a "species tree."

Keywords: Forest of Life; Map of quartets; Phylogenomic methods; Tree comparison; Tree of Life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Biological Evolution
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Genome-Wide Association Study* / methods
  • Genomics* / methods
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phylogeny*
  • Prokaryotic Cells / classification*