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Evolutionary trees from DNA sequences: A maximum likelihood approach

Summary

The application of maximum likelihood techniques to the estimation of evolutionary trees from nucleic acid sequence data is discussed. A computationally feasible method for finding such maximum likelihood estimates is developed, and a computer program is available. This method has advantages over the traditional parsimony algorithms, which can give misleading results if rates of evolution differ in different lineages. It also allows the testing of hypotheses about the constancy of evolutionary rates by likelihood ratio tests, and gives rough indication of the error of the estimate of the tree.

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This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by the United States Government. Neither the United States nor the United States Department of Energy, nor any of their employees, nor any of their contractors, subcontractors, or their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately-owned rights

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Felsenstein, J. Evolutionary trees from DNA sequences: A maximum likelihood approach. J Mol Evol 17, 368–376 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01734359

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Key words

  • Evolution
  • Phylogeny
  • Maximum likelihood
  • Parsimony
  • Estimation
  • DNA sequences