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1.  Parsimony and Model-Based Analyses of Indels in Avian Nuclear Genes Reveal Congruent and Incongruent Phylogenetic Signals 
Biology  2013;2(1):419-444.
Insertion/deletion (indel) mutations, which are represented by gaps in multiple sequence alignments, have been used to examine phylogenetic hypotheses for some time. However, most analyses combine gap data with the nucleotide sequences in which they are embedded, probably because most phylogenetic datasets include few gap characters. Here, we report analyses of 12,030 gap characters from an alignment of avian nuclear genes using maximum parsimony (MP) and a simple maximum likelihood (ML) framework. Both trees were similar, and they exhibited almost all of the strongly supported relationships in the nucleotide tree, although neither gap tree supported many relationships that have proven difficult to recover in previous studies. Moreover, independent lines of evidence typically corroborated the nucleotide topology instead of the gap topology when they disagreed, although the number of conflicting nodes with high bootstrap support was limited. Filtering to remove short indels did not substantially reduce homoplasy or reduce conflict. Combined analyses of nucleotides and gaps resulted in the nucleotide topology, but with increased support, suggesting that gap data may prove most useful when analyzed in combination with nucleotide substitutions.
doi:10.3390/biology2010419
PMCID: PMC4009869  PMID: 24832669
bird classification; avian phylogeny; nucleotide sequence alignment; total evidence; Columbiformes; Coraciiformes; Galliformes
2.  Taking the First Steps towards a Standard for Reporting on Phylogenies: Minimal Information about a Phylogenetic Analysis (MIAPA) 
In the eight years since phylogenomics was introduced as the intersection of genomics and phylogenetics, the field has provided fundamental insights into gene function, genome history and organismal relationships. The utility of phylogenomics is growing with the increase in the number and diversity of taxa for which whole genome and large transcriptome sequence sets are being generated. We assert that the synergy between genomic and phylogenetic perspectives in comparative biology would be enhanced by the development and refinement of minimal reporting standards for phylogenetic analyses. Encouraged by the development of the Minimum Information About a Microarray Experiment (MIAME) standard, we propose a similar roadmap for the development of a Minimal Information About a Phylogenetic Analysis (MIAPA) standard. Key in the successful development and implementation of such a standard will be broad participation by developers of phylogenetic analysis software, phylogenetic database developers, practitioners of phylogenomics, and journal editors.
doi:10.1089/omi.2006.10.231
PMCID: PMC3167193  PMID: 16901231
3.  Homoplastic microinversions and the avian tree of life 
Background
Microinversions are cytologically undetectable inversions of DNA sequences that accumulate slowly in genomes. Like many other rare genomic changes (RGCs), microinversions are thought to be virtually homoplasy-free evolutionary characters, suggesting that they may be very useful for difficult phylogenetic problems such as the avian tree of life. However, few detailed surveys of these genomic rearrangements have been conducted, making it difficult to assess this hypothesis or understand the impact of microinversions upon genome evolution.
Results
We surveyed non-coding sequence data from a recent avian phylogenetic study and found substantially more microinversions than expected based upon prior information about vertebrate inversion rates, although this is likely due to underestimation of these rates in previous studies. Most microinversions were lineage-specific or united well-accepted groups. However, some homoplastic microinversions were evident among the informative characters. Hemiplasy, which reflects differences between gene trees and the species tree, did not explain the observed homoplasy. Two specific loci were microinversion hotspots, with high numbers of inversions that included both the homoplastic as well as some overlapping microinversions. Neither stem-loop structures nor detectable sequence motifs were associated with microinversions in the hotspots.
Conclusions
Microinversions can provide valuable phylogenetic information, although power analysis indicates that large amounts of sequence data will be necessary to identify enough inversions (and similar RGCs) to resolve short branches in the tree of life. Moreover, microinversions are not perfect characters and should be interpreted with caution, just as with any other character type. Independent of their use for phylogenetic analyses, microinversions are important because they have the potential to complicate alignment of non-coding sequences. Despite their low rate of accumulation, they have clearly contributed to genome evolution, suggesting that active identification of microinversions will prove useful in future phylogenomic studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-141
PMCID: PMC3123225  PMID: 21612607

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