A Unifying Parsimony Model of Genome Evolution

A Unifying Parsimony Model of Genome Evolution
Benedict Paten, Daniel R. Zerbino, Glenn Hickey, David Haussler
(Submitted on 9 Mar 2013)

The study of molecular evolution rests on the classical fields of population genetics and systematics, but the increasing availability of DNA sequence data has broadened the field in the last decades, leading to new theories and methodologies. This includes parsimony and maximum likelihood methods of phylogenetic tree estimation, the theory of genome rearrangements, and the coalescent model with recombination. These all interact in the study of genome evolution, yet to date they have only been pursued in isolation. We present the first unified parsimony framework for the study of genome evolutionary histories that includes all of these aspects, proposing a graphical data structure called a history graph that is intended to form a practical basis for analysis. We define tractable upper and lower bound parsimony cost functions on history graphs that incorporate both substitutions and rearrangements. We demonstrate that these bounds become tight for a special unambiguous type of history graph called an ancestral variation graph (AVG), which captures in its combinatorial structure the operations required in an evolutionary history. For an input history graph G, we demonstrate that there exists a finite set of interpretations of G that contains all minimal (lacking extraneous elements) and most parsimonious AVG interpretations of G. We define a partial order over this set and an associated set of sampling moves that can be used to explore these DNA histories. These results generalise and conceptually simplify the problem so that we can sample evolutionary histories using parsimony cost functions that account for all substitutions and rearrangements in the presence of duplications.

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