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1.  PANTHER version 7: improved phylogenetic trees, orthologs and collaboration with the Gene Ontology Consortium 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;38(Database issue):D204-D210.
Protein Analysis THrough Evolutionary Relationships (PANTHER) is a comprehensive software system for inferring the functions of genes based on their evolutionary relationships. Phylogenetic trees of gene families form the basis for PANTHER and these trees are annotated with ontology terms describing the evolution of gene function from ancestral to modern day genes. One of the main applications of PANTHER is in accurate prediction of the functions of uncharacterized genes, based on their evolutionary relationships to genes with functions known from experiment. The PANTHER website, freely available at, also includes software tools for analyzing genomic data relative to known and inferred gene functions. Since 2007, there have been several new developments to PANTHER: (i) improved phylogenetic trees, explicitly representing speciation and gene duplication events, (ii) identification of gene orthologs, including least diverged orthologs (best one-to-one pairs), (iii) coverage of more genomes (48 genomes, up to 87% of genes in each genome; see, (iv) improved support for alternative database identifiers for genes, proteins and microarray probes and (v) adoption of the SBGN standard for display of biological pathways. In addition, PANTHER trees are being annotated with gene function as part of the Gene Ontology Reference Genome project, resulting in an increasing number of curated functional annotations.
PMCID: PMC2808919  PMID: 20015972
2.  QuartetS: a fast and accurate algorithm for large-scale orthology detection 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(13):e88.
The unparalleled growth in the availability of genomic data offers both a challenge to develop orthology detection methods that are simultaneously accurate and high throughput and an opportunity to improve orthology detection by leveraging evolutionary evidence in the accumulated sequenced genomes. Here, we report a novel orthology detection method, termed QuartetS, that exploits evolutionary evidence in a computationally efficient manner. Based on the well-established evolutionary concept that gene duplication events can be used to discriminate homologous genes, QuartetS uses an approximate phylogenetic analysis of quartet gene trees to infer the occurrence of duplication events and discriminate paralogous from orthologous genes. We used function- and phylogeny-based metrics to perform a large-scale, systematic comparison of the orthology predictions of QuartetS with those of four other methods [bi-directional best hit (BBH), outgroup, OMA and QuartetS-C (QuartetS followed by clustering)], involving 624 bacterial genomes and >2 million genes. We found that QuartetS slightly, but consistently, outperformed the highly specific OMA method and that, while consuming only 0.5% additional computational time, QuartetS predicted 50% more orthologs with a 50% lower false positive rate than the widely used BBH method. We conclude that, for large-scale phylogenetic and functional analysis, QuartetS and QuartetS-C should be preferred, respectively, in applications where high accuracy and high throughput are required.
PMCID: PMC3141274  PMID: 21572104
3.  Identification of mammalian orthologs using local synteny 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:630.
Accurate determination of orthology is central to comparative genomics. For vertebrates in particular, very large gene families, high rates of gene duplication and loss, multiple mechanisms of gene duplication, and high rates of retrotransposition all combine to make inference of orthology between genes difficult. Many methods have been developed to identify orthologous genes, mostly based upon analysis of the inferred protein sequence of the genes. More recently, methods have been proposed that use genomic context in addition to protein sequence to improve orthology assignment in vertebrates. Such methods have been most successfully implemented in fungal genomes and have long been used in prokaryotic genomes, where gene order is far less variable than in vertebrates. However, to our knowledge, no explicit comparison of synteny and sequence based definitions of orthology has been reported in vertebrates, or, more specifically, in mammals.
We test a simple method for the measurement and utilization of gene order (local synteny) in the identification of mammalian orthologs by investigating the agreement between coding sequence based orthology (Inparanoid) and local synteny based orthology. In the 5 mammalian genomes studied, 93% of the sampled inter-species pairs were found to be concordant between the two orthology methods, illustrating that local synteny is a robust substitute to coding sequence for identifying orthologs. However, 7% of pairs were found to be discordant between local synteny and Inparanoid. These cases of discordance result from evolutionary events including retrotransposition and genome rearrangements.
By analyzing cases of discordance between local synteny and Inparanoid we show that local synteny can distinguish between true orthologs and recent retrogenes, can resolve ambiguous many-to-many orthology relationships into one-to-one ortholog pairs, and might be used to identify cases of non-orthologous gene displacement by retroduplicated paralogs.
PMCID: PMC2807883  PMID: 20030836
4.  Evola: Ortholog database of all human genes in H-InvDB with manual curation of phylogenetic trees 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;36(Database issue):D787-D792.
Orthologs are genes in different species that evolved from a common ancestral gene by speciation. Currently, with the rapid growth of transcriptome data of various species, more reliable orthology information is prerequisite for further studies. However, detection of orthologs could be erroneous if pairwise distance-based methods, such as reciprocal BLAST searches, are utilized. Thus, as a sub-database of H-InvDB, an integrated database of annotated human genes (, we constructed a fully curated database of evolutionary features of human genes, called ‘Evola’. In the process of the ortholog detection, computational analysis based on conserved genome synteny and transcript sequence similarity was followed by manual curation by researchers examining phylogenetic trees. In total, 18 968 human genes have orthologs among 11 vertebrates (chimpanzee, mouse, cow, chicken, zebrafish, etc.), either computationally detected or manually curated orthologs. Evola provides amino acid sequence alignments and phylogenetic trees of orthologs and homologs. In ‘dN/dS view’, natural selection on genes can be analyzed between human and other species. In ‘Locus maps’, all transcript variants and their exon/intron structures can be compared among orthologous gene loci. We expect the Evola to serve as a comprehensive and reliable database to be utilized in comparative analyses for obtaining new knowledge about human genes. Evola is available at
PMCID: PMC2238928  PMID: 17982176
5.  PhyloTreePruner: A Phylogenetic Tree-Based Approach for Selection of Orthologous Sequences for Phylogenomics 
Molecular phylogenetics relies on accurate identification of orthologous sequences among the taxa of interest. Most orthology inference programs available for use in phylogenomics rely on small sets of pre-defined orthologs from model organisms or phenetic approaches such as all-versus-all sequence comparisons followed by Markov graph-based clustering. Such approaches have high sensitivity but may erroneously include paralogous sequences. We developed PhyloTreePruner, a software utility that uses a phylogenetic approach to refine orthology inferences made using phenetic methods. PhyloTreePruner checks single-gene trees for evidence of paralogy and generates a new alignment for each group containing only sequences inferred to be orthologs. Importantly, PhyloTreePruner takes into account support values on the tree and avoids unnecessarily deleting sequences in cases where a weakly supported tree topology incorrectly indicates paralogy. A test of PhyloTreePruner on a dataset generated from 11 completely sequenced arthropod genomes identified 2,027 orthologous groups sampled for all taxa. Phylogenetic analysis of the concatenated supermatrix yielded a generally well-supported topology that was consistent with the current understanding of arthropod phylogeny. PhyloTreePruner is freely available from
PMCID: PMC3825643  PMID: 24250218
phylogenomic; orthology; paralogy; gene tree
6.  RIO: Analyzing proteomes by automated phylogenomics using resampled inference of orthologs 
BMC Bioinformatics  2002;3:14.
When analyzing protein sequences using sequence similarity searches, orthologous sequences (that diverged by speciation) are more reliable predictors of a new protein's function than paralogous sequences (that diverged by gene duplication). The utility of phylogenetic information in high-throughput genome annotation ("phylogenomics") is widely recognized, but existing approaches are either manual or not explicitly based on phylogenetic trees.
Here we present RIO (Resampled Inference of Orthologs), a procedure for automated phylogenomics using explicit phylogenetic inference. RIO analyses are performed over bootstrap resampled phylogenetic trees to estimate the reliability of orthology assignments. We also introduce supplementary concepts that are helpful for functional inference. RIO has been implemented as Perl pipeline connecting several C and Java programs. It is available at A web server is at RIO was tested on the Arabidopsis thaliana and Caenorhabditis elegans proteomes.
The RIO procedure is particularly useful for the automated detection of first representatives of novel protein subfamilies. We also describe how some orthologies can be misleading for functional inference.
PMCID: PMC116988  PMID: 12028595
7.  Orthology prediction at scalable resolution by phylogenetic tree analysis 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8:83.
Orthology is one of the cornerstones of gene function prediction. Dividing the phylogenetic relations between genes into either orthologs or paralogs is however an oversimplification. Already in two-species gene-phylogenies, the complicated, non-transitive nature of phylogenetic relations results in inparalogs and outparalogs. For situations with more than two species we lack semantics to specifically describe the phylogenetic relations, let alone to exploit them. Published procedures to extract orthologous groups from phylogenetic trees do not allow identification of orthology at various levels of resolution, nor do they document the relations between the orthologous groups.
We introduce "levels of orthology" to describe the multi-level nature of gene relations. This is implemented in a program LOFT (Levels of Orthology From Trees) that assigns hierarchical orthology numbers to genes based on a phylogenetic tree. To decide upon speciation and gene duplication events in a tree LOFT can be instructed either to perform classical species-tree reconciliation or to use the species overlap between partitions in the tree. The hierarchical orthology numbers assigned by LOFT effectively summarize the phylogenetic relations between genes. The resulting high-resolution orthologous groups are depicted in colour, facilitating visual inspection of (large) trees. A benchmark for orthology prediction, that takes into account the varying levels of orthology between genes, shows that the phylogeny-based high-resolution orthology assignments made by LOFT are reliable.
The "levels of orthology" concept offers high resolution, reliable orthology, while preserving the relations between orthologous groups. A Windows as well as a preliminary Java version of LOFT is available from the LOFT website .
PMCID: PMC1838432  PMID: 17346331
8.  Detecting non-orthology in the COGs database and other approaches grouping orthologs using genome-specific best hits 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(11):3309-3316.
Correct orthology assignment is a critical prerequisite of numerous comparative genomics procedures, such as function prediction, construction of phylogenetic species trees and genome rearrangement analysis. We present an algorithm for the detection of non-orthologs that arise by mistake in current orthology classification methods based on genome-specific best hits, such as the COGs database. The algorithm works with pairwise distance estimates, rather than computationally expensive and error-prone tree-building methods. The accuracy of the algorithm is evaluated through verification of the distribution of predicted cases, case-by-case phylogenetic analysis and comparisons with predictions from other projects using independent methods. Our results show that a very significant fraction of the COG groups include non-orthologs: using conservative parameters, the algorithm detects non-orthology in a third of all COG groups. Consequently, sequence analysis sensitive to correct orthology assignments will greatly benefit from these findings.
PMCID: PMC1500873  PMID: 16835308
9.  Inferring angiosperm phylogeny from EST data with widespread gene duplication 
BMC Evolutionary Biology  2007;7(Suppl 1):S3.
Most studies inferring species phylogenies use sequences from single copy genes or sets of orthologs culled from gene families. For taxa such as plants, with very high levels of gene duplication in their nuclear genomes, this has limited the exploitation of nuclear sequences for phylogenetic studies, such as those available in large EST libraries. One rarely used method of inference, gene tree parsimony, can infer species trees from gene families undergoing duplication and loss, but its performance has not been evaluated at a phylogenomic scale for EST data in plants.
A gene tree parsimony analysis based on EST data was undertaken for six angiosperm model species and Pinus, an outgroup. Although a large fraction of the tentative consensus sequences obtained from the TIGR database of ESTs was assembled into homologous clusters too small to be phylogenetically informative, some 557 clusters contained promising levels of information. Based on maximum likelihood estimates of the gene trees obtained from these clusters, gene tree parsimony correctly inferred the accepted species tree with strong statistical support. A slight variant of this species tree was obtained when maximum parsimony was used to infer the individual gene trees instead.
Despite the complexity of the EST data and the relatively small fraction eventually used in inferring a species tree, the gene tree parsimony method performed well in the face of very high apparent rates of duplication.
PMCID: PMC1796612  PMID: 17288576
10.  Prokaryotic Phylogenies Inferred from Whole-Genome Sequence and Annotation Data 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:409062.
Phylogenetic trees are used to represent the evolutionary relationship among various groups of species. In this paper, a novel method for inferring prokaryotic phylogenies using multiple genomic information is proposed. The method is called CGCPhy and based on the distance matrix of orthologous gene clusters between whole-genome pairs. CGCPhy comprises four main steps. First, orthologous genes are determined by sequence similarity, genomic function, and genomic structure information. Second, genes involving potential HGT events are eliminated, since such genes are considered to be the highly conserved genes across different species and the genes located on fragments with abnormal genome barcode. Third, we calculate the distance of the orthologous gene clusters between each genome pair in terms of the number of orthologous genes in conserved clusters. Finally, the neighbor-joining method is employed to construct phylogenetic trees across different species. CGCPhy has been examined on different datasets from 617 complete single-chromosome prokaryotic genomes and achieved applicative accuracies on different species sets in agreement with Bergey's taxonomy in quartet topologies. Simulation results show that CGCPhy achieves high average accuracy and has a low standard deviation on different datasets, so it has an applicative potential for phylogenetic analysis.
PMCID: PMC3773407  PMID: 24073404
11.  MetaPhOrs: orthology and paralogy predictions from multiple phylogenetic evidence using a consistency-based confidence score 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(5):e32.
Reliable prediction of orthology is central to comparative genomics. Approaches based on phylogenetic analyses closely resemble the original definition of orthology and paralogy and are known to be highly accurate. However, the large computational cost associated to these analyses is a limiting factor that often prevents its use at genomic scales. Recently, several projects have addressed the reconstruction of large collections of high-quality phylogenetic trees from which orthology and paralogy relationships can be inferred. This provides us with the opportunity to infer the evolutionary relationships of genes from multiple, independent, phylogenetic trees. Using such strategy, we combine phylogenetic information derived from different databases, to predict orthology and paralogy relationships for 4.1 million proteins in 829 fully sequenced genomes. We show that the number of independent sources from which a prediction is made, as well as the level of consistency across predictions, can be used as reliable confidence scores. A webserver has been developed to easily access these data (, which provides users with a global repository of phylogeny-based orthology and paralogy predictions.
PMCID: PMC3061081  PMID: 21149260
12.  Ortholog identification in the presence of domain architecture rearrangement 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2011;12(5):413-422.
Ortholog identification is used in gene functional annotation, species phylogeny estimation, phylogenetic profile construction and many other analyses. Bioinformatics methods for ortholog identification are commonly based on pairwise protein sequence comparisons between whole genomes. Phylogenetic methods of ortholog identification have also been developed; these methods can be applied to protein data sets sharing a common domain architecture or which share a single functional domain but differ outside this region of homology. While promiscuous domains represent a challenge to all orthology prediction methods, overall structural similarity is highly correlated with proximity in a phylogenetic tree, conferring a degree of robustness to phylogenetic methods. In this article, we review the issues involved in orthology prediction when data sets include sequences with structurally heterogeneous domain architectures, with particular attention to automated methods designed for high-throughput application, and present a case study to illustrate the challenges in this area.
PMCID: PMC3178056  PMID: 21712343
phylogenomics; orthology; promiscuous domains; multi-domain architecture; function prediction; super-ortholog
13.  Genome trees constructed using five different approaches suggest new major bacterial clades 
The availability of multiple complete genome sequences from diverse taxa prompts the development of new phylogenetic approaches, which attempt to incorporate information derived from comparative analysis of complete gene sets or large subsets thereof. Such attempts are particularly relevant because of the major role of horizontal gene transfer and lineage-specific gene loss, at least in the evolution of prokaryotes.
Five largely independent approaches were employed to construct trees for completely sequenced bacterial and archaeal genomes: i) presence-absence of genomes in clusters of orthologous genes; ii) conservation of local gene order (gene pairs) among prokaryotic genomes; iii) parameters of identity distribution for probable orthologs; iv) analysis of concatenated alignments of ribosomal proteins; v) comparison of trees constructed for multiple protein families. All constructed trees support the separation of the two primary prokaryotic domains, bacteria and archaea, as well as some terminal bifurcations within the bacterial and archaeal domains. Beyond these obvious groupings, the trees made with different methods appeared to differ substantially in terms of the relative contributions of phylogenetic relationships and similarities in gene repertoires caused by similar life styles and horizontal gene transfer to the tree topology. The trees based on presence-absence of genomes in orthologous clusters and the trees based on conserved gene pairs appear to be strongly affected by gene loss and horizontal gene transfer. The trees based on identity distributions for orthologs and particularly the tree made of concatenated ribosomal protein sequences seemed to carry a stronger phylogenetic signal. The latter tree supported three potential high-level bacterial clades,: i) Chlamydia-Spirochetes, ii) Thermotogales-Aquificales (bacterial hyperthermophiles), and ii) Actinomycetes-Deinococcales-Cyanobacteria. The latter group also appeared to join the low-GC Gram-positive bacteria at a deeper tree node. These new groupings of bacteria were supported by the analysis of alternative topologies in the concatenated ribosomal protein tree using the Kishino-Hasegawa test and by a census of the topologies of 132 individual groups of orthologous proteins. Additionally, the results of this analysis put into question the sister-group relationship between the two major archaeal groups, Euryarchaeota and Crenarchaeota, and suggest instead that Euryarchaeota might be a paraphyletic group with respect to Crenarchaeota.
We conclude that, the extensive horizontal gene flow and lineage-specific gene loss notwithstanding, extension of phylogenetic analysis to the genome scale has the potential of uncovering deep evolutionary relationships between prokaryotic lineages.
PMCID: PMC60490  PMID: 11734060
14.  DODO: an efficient orthologous genes assignment tool based on domain architectures. Domain based ortholog detection 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11(Suppl 7):S6.
Orthologs are genes derived from the same ancestor gene loci after speciation events. Orthologous proteins usually have similar sequences and perform comparable biological functions. Therefore, ortholog identification is useful in annotations of newly sequenced genomes. With rapidly increasing number of sequenced genomes, constructing or updating ortholog relationship between all genomes requires lots of effort and computation time. In addition, elucidating ortholog relationships between distantly related genomes is challenging because of the lower sequence similarity. Therefore, an efficient ortholog detection method that can deal with large number of distantly related genomes is desired.
An efficient ortholog detection pipeline DODO (DOmain based Detection of Orthologs) is created on the basis of domain architectures in this study. Supported by domain composition, which usually directly related with protein function, DODO could facilitate orthologs detection across distantly related genomes. DODO works in two main steps. Starting from domain information, it first assigns protein groups according to their domain architectures and further identifies orthologs within those groups with much reduced complexity. Here DODO is shown to detect orthologs between two genomes in considerably shorter period of time than traditional methods of reciprocal best hits and it is more significant when analyzed a large number of genomes. The output results of DODO are highly comparable with other known ortholog databases.
DODO provides a new efficient pipeline for detection of orthologs in a large number of genomes. In addition, a database established with DODO is also easier to maintain and could be updated relatively effortlessly. The pipeline of DODO could be downloaded from
PMCID: PMC2957689  PMID: 21106128
15.  Improving the specificity of high-throughput ortholog prediction 
BMC Bioinformatics  2006;7:270.
Orthologs (genes that have diverged after a speciation event) tend to have similar function, and so their prediction has become an important component of comparative genomics and genome annotation. The gold standard phylogenetic analysis approach of comparing available organismal phylogeny to gene phylogeny is not easily automated for genome-wide analysis; therefore, ortholog prediction for large genome-scale datasets is typically performed using a reciprocal-best-BLAST-hits (RBH) approach. One problem with RBH is that it will incorrectly predict a paralog as an ortholog when incomplete genome sequences or gene loss is involved. In addition, there is an increasing interest in identifying orthologs most likely to have retained similar function.
To address these issues, we present here a high-throughput computational method named Ortholuge that further evaluates previously predicted orthologs (including those predicted using an RBH-based approach) – identifying which orthologs most closely reflect species divergence and may more likely have similar function. Ortholuge analyzes phylogenetic distance ratios involving two comparison species and an outgroup species, noting cases where relative gene divergence is atypical. It also identifies some cases of gene duplication after species divergence. Through simulations of incomplete genome data/gene loss, we show that the vast majority of genes falsely predicted as orthologs by an RBH-based method can be identified. Ortholuge was then used to estimate the number of false-positives (predominantly paralogs) in selected RBH-predicted ortholog datasets, identifying approximately 10% paralogs in a eukaryotic data set (mouse-rat comparison) and 5% in a bacterial data set (Pseudomonas putida – Pseudomonas syringae species comparison). Higher quality (more precise) datasets of orthologs, which we term "ssd-orthologs" (supporting-species-divergence-orthologs), were also constructed. These datasets, as well as Ortholuge software that may be used to characterize other species' datasets, are available at (software under GNU General Public License).
The Ortholuge method reported here appears to significantly improve the specificity (precision) of high-throughput ortholog prediction for both bacterial and eukaryotic species. This method, and its associated software, will aid those performing various comparative genomics-based analyses, such as the prediction of conserved regulatory elements upstream of orthologous genes.
PMCID: PMC1524997  PMID: 16729895
16.  Phylogenomics of plant genomes: a methodology for genome-wide searches for orthologs in plants 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:183.
Gene ortholog identification is now a major objective for mining the increasing amount of sequence data generated by complete or partial genome sequencing projects. Comparative and functional genomics urgently need a method for ortholog detection to reduce gene function inference and to aid in the identification of conserved or divergent genetic pathways between several species. As gene functions change during evolution, reconstructing the evolutionary history of genes should be a more accurate way to differentiate orthologs from paralogs. Phylogenomics takes into account phylogenetic information from high-throughput genome annotation and is the most straightforward way to infer orthologs. However, procedures for automatic detection of orthologs are still scarce and suffer from several limitations.
We developed a procedure for ortholog prediction between Oryza sativa and Arabidopsis thaliana. Firstly, we established an efficient method to cluster A. thaliana and O. sativa full proteomes into gene families. Then, we developed an optimized phylogenomics pipeline for ortholog inference. We validated the full procedure using test sets of orthologs and paralogs to demonstrate that our method outperforms pairwise methods for ortholog predictions.
Our procedure achieved a high level of accuracy in predicting ortholog and paralog relationships. Phylogenomic predictions for all validated gene families in both species were easily achieved and we can conclude that our methodology outperforms similarly based methods.
PMCID: PMC2377279  PMID: 18426584
17.  Revealing Mammalian Evolutionary Relationships by Comparative Analysis of Gene Clusters 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2012;4(4):586-601.
Many software tools for comparative analysis of genomic sequence data have been released in recent decades. Despite this, it remains challenging to determine evolutionary relationships in gene clusters due to their complex histories involving duplications, deletions, inversions, and conversions. One concept describing these relationships is orthology. Orthologs derive from a common ancestor by speciation, in contrast to paralogs, which derive from duplication. Discriminating orthologs from paralogs is a necessary step in most multispecies sequence analyses, but doing so accurately is impeded by the occurrence of gene conversion events. We propose a refined method of orthology assignment based on two paradigms for interpreting its definition: by genomic context or by sequence content. X-orthology (based on context) traces orthology resulting from speciation and duplication only, while N-orthology (based on content) includes the influence of conversion events. We developed a computational method for automatically mapping both types of orthology on a per-nucleotide basis in gene cluster regions studied by comparative sequencing, and we make this mapping accessible by visualizing the output. All of these steps are incorporated into our newly extended CHAP 2 package. We evaluate our method using both simulated data and real gene clusters (including the well-characterized α-globin and β-globin clusters). We also illustrate use of CHAP 2 by analyzing four more loci: CCL (chemokine ligand), IFN (interferon), CYP2abf (part of cytochrome P450 family 2), and KIR (killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors). These new methods facilitate and extend our understanding of evolution at these and other loci by adding automated accurate evolutionary inference to the biologist's toolkit. The CHAP 2 package is freely available from
PMCID: PMC3342878  PMID: 22454131
gene clusters; orthology; conversion; evolutionary inference; KIR
18.  Construction of a Phylogenetic Tree of Photosynthetic Prokaryotes Based on Average Similarities of Whole Genome Sequences 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70290.
Phylogenetic trees have been constructed for a wide range of organisms using gene sequence information, especially through the identification of orthologous genes that have been vertically inherited. The number of available complete genome sequences is rapidly increasing, and many tools for construction of genome trees based on whole genome sequences have been proposed. However, development of a reasonable method of using complete genome sequences for construction of phylogenetic trees has not been established. We have developed a method for construction of phylogenetic trees based on the average sequence similarities of whole genome sequences. We used this method to examine the phylogeny of 115 photosynthetic prokaryotes, i.e., cyanobacteria, Chlorobi, proteobacteria, Chloroflexi, Firmicutes and nonphotosynthetic organisms including Archaea. Although the bootstrap values for the branching order of phyla were low, probably due to lateral gene transfer and saturated mutation, the obtained tree was largely consistent with the previously reported phylogenetic trees, indicating that this method is a robust alternative to traditional phylogenetic methods.
PMCID: PMC3724816  PMID: 23922968
19.  TreeKO: a duplication-aware algorithm for the comparison of phylogenetic trees 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(10):e66.
Comparisons of tree topologies provide relevant information in evolutionary studies. Most existing methods share the drawback of requiring a complete and exact mapping of terminal nodes between the compared trees. This severely limits the scope of genome-wide analyses, since trees containing duplications are pruned arbitrarily or discarded. To overcome this, we have developed treeKO, an algorithm that enables the comparison of tree topologies, even in the presence of duplication and loss events. To do so treeKO recursively splits gene trees into pruned trees containing only orthologs to subsequently compute a distance based on the combined analyses of all pruned tree comparisons. In addition treeKO, implements the possibility of computing phylome support values, and reconciliation-based measures such as the number of inferred duplication and loss events.
PMCID: PMC3105381  PMID: 21335609
20.  A Tight Link between Orthologs and Bidirectional Best Hits in Bacterial and Archaeal Genomes 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2012;4(12):1286-1294.
Orthologous relationships between genes are routinely inferred from bidirectional best hits (BBH) in pairwise genome comparisons. However, to our knowledge, it has never been quantitatively demonstrated that orthologs form BBH. To test this “BBH-orthology conjecture,” we take advantage of the operon organization of bacterial and archaeal genomes and assume that, when two genes in compared genomes are flanked by two BBH show statistically significant sequence similarity to one another, these genes are bona fide orthologs. Under this assumption, we tested whether middle genes in “syntenic orthologous gene triplets” form BBH. We found that this was the case in more than 95% of the syntenic gene triplets in all genome comparisons. A detailed examination of the exceptions to this pattern, including maximum likelihood phylogenetic tree analysis, showed that some of these deviations involved artifacts of genome annotation, whereas very small fractions represented random assignment of the best hit to one of closely related in-paralogs, paralogous displacement in situ, or even less frequent genuine violations of the BBH–orthology conjecture caused by acceleration of evolution in one of the orthologs. We conclude that, at least in prokaryotes, genes for which independent evidence of orthology is available typically form BBH and, conversely, BBH can serve as a strong indication of gene orthology.
PMCID: PMC3542571  PMID: 23160176
orthology; bidirectional best hit; genome comparison; synteny
21.  Inferring Hierarchical Orthologous Groups from Orthologous Gene Pairs 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53786.
Hierarchical orthologous groups are defined as sets of genes that have descended from a single common ancestor within a taxonomic range of interest. Identifying such groups is useful in a wide range of contexts, including inference of gene function, study of gene evolution dynamics and comparative genomics. Hierarchical orthologous groups can be derived from reconciled gene/species trees but, this being a computationally costly procedure, many phylogenomic databases work on the basis of pairwise gene comparisons instead (“graph-based” approach). To our knowledge, there is only one published algorithm for graph-based hierarchical group inference, but both its theoretical justification and performance in practice are as of yet largely uncharacterised. We establish a formal correspondence between the orthology graph and hierarchical orthologous groups. Based on that, we devise GETHOGs (“Graph-based Efficient Technique for Hierarchical Orthologous Groups”), a novel algorithm to infer hierarchical groups directly from the orthology graph, thus without needing gene tree inference nor gene/species tree reconciliation. GETHOGs is shown to correctly reconstruct hierarchical orthologous groups when applied to perfect input, and several extensions with stringency parameters are provided to deal with imperfect input data. We demonstrate its competitiveness using both simulated and empirical data. GETHOGs is implemented as a part of the freely-available OMA standalone package ( Furthermore, hierarchical groups inferred by GETHOGs (“OMA HOGs”) on >1,000 genomes can be interactively queried via the OMA browser (
PMCID: PMC3544860  PMID: 23342000
22.  Drawing the tree of eukaryotic life based on the analysis of 2,269 manually annotated myosins from 328 species 
Genome Biology  2007;8(9):R196.
The tree of eukaryotic life was reconstructed based on the analysis of 2,269 myosin motor domains from 328 organisms, confirming some accepted relationships of major taxa and resolving disputed and preliminary classifications.
The evolutionary history of organisms is expressed in phylogenetic trees. The most widely used phylogenetic trees describing the evolution of all organisms have been constructed based on single-gene phylogenies that, however, often produce conflicting results. Incongruence between phylogenetic trees can result from the violation of the orthology assumption and stochastic and systematic errors.
Here, we have reconstructed the tree of eukaryotic life based on the analysis of 2,269 myosin motor domains from 328 organisms. All sequences were manually annotated and verified, and were grouped into 35 myosin classes, of which 16 have not been proposed previously. The resultant phylogenetic tree confirms some accepted relationships of major taxa and resolves disputed and preliminary classifications. We place the Viridiplantae after the separation of Euglenozoa, Alveolata, and Stramenopiles, we suggest a monophyletic origin of Entamoebidae, Acanthamoebidae, and Dictyosteliida, and provide evidence for the asynchronous evolution of the Mammalia and Fungi.
Our analysis of the myosins allowed combining phylogenetic information derived from class-specific trees with the information of myosin class evolution and distribution. This approach is expected to result in superior accuracy compared to single-gene or phylogenomic analyses because the orthology problem is resolved and a strong determinant not depending on any technical uncertainties is incorporated, the class distribution. Combining our analysis of the myosins with high quality analyses of other protein families, for example, that of the kinesins, could help in resolving still questionable dependencies at the origin of eukaryotic life.
PMCID: PMC2375034  PMID: 17877792
23.  Databases of homologous gene families for comparative genomics 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10(Suppl 6):S3.
Comparative genomics is a central step in many sequence analysis studies, from gene annotation and the identification of new functional regions in genomes, to the study of evolutionary processes at the molecular level (speciation, single gene or whole genome duplications, etc.) and phylogenetics. In that context, databases providing users high quality homologous families and sequence alignments as well as phylogenetic trees based on state of the art algorithms are becoming indispensable.
We developed an automated procedure allowing massive all-against-all similarity searches, gene clustering, multiple alignments computation, and phylogenetic trees construction and reconciliation. The application of this procedure to a very large set of sequences is possible through parallel computing on a large computer cluster.
Three databases were developed using this procedure: HOVERGEN, HOGENOM and HOMOLENS. These databases share the same architecture but differ in their content. HOVERGEN contains sequences from vertebrates, HOGENOM is mainly devoted to completely sequenced microbial organisms, and HOMOLENS is devoted to metazoan genomes from Ensembl. Access to the databases is provided through Web query forms, a general retrieval system and a client-server graphical interface. The later can be used to perform tree-pattern based searches allowing, among other uses, to retrieve sets of orthologous genes. The three databases, as well as the software required to build and query them, can be used or downloaded from the PBIL (Pôle Bioinformatique Lyonnais) site at .
PMCID: PMC2697650  PMID: 19534752
24.  Factors affecting the concordance between orthologous gene trees and species tree in bacteria 
As originally defined, orthologous genes implied a reflection of the history of the species. In recent years, many studies have examined the concordance between orthologous gene trees and species trees in bacteria. These studies have produced contradictory results that may have been influenced by orthologous gene misidentification and artefactual phylogenetic reconstructions. Here, using a method that allows the detection and exclusion of false positives during identification of orthologous genes, we address the question of whether putative orthologous genes within bacteria really reflect the history of the species.
We identified a set of 370 orthologous genes from the bacterial order Rhizobiales. Although manifesting strong vertical signal, almost every orthologous gene had a distinct phylogeny, and the most common topology among the orthologous gene trees did not correspond with the best estimate of the species tree. However, each orthologous gene tree shared an average of 70% of its bipartitions with the best estimate of the species tree. Stochastic error related to gene size affected the concordance between the best estimated of the species tree and the orthologous gene trees, although this effect was weak and distributed unevenly among the functional categories. The nodes showing the greatest discordance were those defined by the shortest internal branches in the best estimated of the species tree. Moreover, a clear bias was evident with respect to the function of the orthologous genes, and the degree of divergence among the orthologous genes appeared to be related to their functional classification.
Orthologous genes do not reflect the history of the species when taken as individual markers, but they do when taken as a whole. Stochastic error affected the concordance of orthologous genes with the species tree, albeit weakly. We conclude that two important biological causes of discordance among orthologous genes are incomplete lineage sorting and functional restriction.
PMCID: PMC2614993  PMID: 18973688
25.  ComPhy: prokaryotic composite distance phylogenies inferred from whole-genome gene sets 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10(Suppl 1):S5.
With the increasing availability of whole genome sequences, it is becoming more and more important to use complete genome sequences for inferring species phylogenies. We developed a new tool ComPhy, 'Composite Distance Phylogeny', based on a composite distance matrix calculated from the comparison of complete gene sets between genome pairs to produce a prokaryotic phylogeny.
The composite distance between two genomes is defined by three components: Gene Dispersion Distance (GDD), Genome Breakpoint Distance (GBD) and Gene Content Distance (GCD). GDD quantifies the dispersion of orthologous genes along the genomic coordinates from one genome to another; GBD measures the shared breakpoints between two genomes; GCD measures the level of shared orthologs between two genomes. The phylogenetic tree is constructed from the composite distance matrix using a neighbor joining method. We tested our method on 9 datasets from 398 completely sequenced prokaryotic genomes. We have achieved above 90% agreement in quartet topologies between the tree created by our method and the tree from the Bergey's taxonomy. In comparison to several other phylogenetic analysis methods, our method showed consistently better performance.
ComPhy is a fast and robust tool for genome-wide inference of evolutionary relationship among genomes. It can be downloaded from .
PMCID: PMC2648732  PMID: 19208152

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