HGT turbulence; Confounding phylogenetic influence of duplicative horizontal transfer and differential gene conversion

Weilong Hao; Palmer, Jeffrey D.
November 2011
Mobile Genetic Elements (2159-2543);Nov/Dec2011, Vol. 1 Issue 4, p256
Academic Journal
Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) often leads to phylogenetic incongruence. When "duplicative HGT" introduces a second copy of a pre-existing gene, the two copies may then engage in gene conversion, leading to phylogenetically mosiac genes. When duplicative HGT is followed by differential gene conversion among descendant lineages, as under the DHDC model, phylogenetic analysis is further complicated. To explore the effects of DH-DC on phylogeny reconstruction, we analyzed two sets of sequences: (1) an augmented set of plant mitochondrial atp1 sequences for which we recently published evidence of DH-DC; and (2) a set of simulated sequences for which we varied the extent of chimerism, the number of chimeric genes and nucleotide substitution rates. We show that the phylogenetic behavior of evolutionarily chimeric genes is highly volatile and depends on both the degree of chimerism and the number of differentially chimeric genes present in the analysis. Furthermore, we show that the presence of chimeric genes in gene trees can spuriously affect the phylogenetic position of purely native sequences, especially by attracting these sequences toward basal positions in trees. We propose the term "HGT turbulence" to describe these complex effects of evolutionarily chimeric genes on phylogenetic results.


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