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Tree of Life Based on Genome Context Networks

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003357
  • Research Article
  • Computational Biology/Genomics
  • Computational Biology/Systems Biology
  • Evolutionary Biology/Bioinformatics
  • Evolutionary Biology/Genomics
  • Biology


Efforts in phylogenomics have greatly improved our understanding of the backbone tree of life. However, due to the systematic error in sequence data, a sequence-based phylogenomic approach leads to well-resolved but statistically significant incongruence. Thus, independent test of current phylogenetic knowledge is required. Here, we have devised a distance-based strategy to reconstruct a highly resolved backbone tree of life, on the basis of the genome context networks of 195 fully sequenced representative species. Along with strongly supporting the monophylies of three superkingdoms and most taxonomic sub-divisions, the derived tree also suggests some intriguing results, such as high G+C gram positive origin of Bacteria, classification of Symbiobacterium thermophilum and Alcanivorax borkumensis in Firmicutes. Furthermore, simulation analyses indicate that addition of more gene relationships with high accuracy can greatly improve the resolution of the phylogenetic tree. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of the reconstruction of highly resolved phylogenetic tree with extensible gene networks across all three domains of life. This strategy also implies that the relationships between the genes (gene network) can define what kind of species it is.

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