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Calculating the probability of multitaxon evolutionary trees: bootstrappers Gambit.

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  • Research Article
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics


The reconstruction of multitaxon trees from molecular sequences is confounded by the variety of algorithms and criteria used to evaluate trees, making it difficult to compare the results of different analyses. A global method of multitaxon phylogenetic reconstruction described here, Bootstrappers Gambit, can be used with any four-taxon algorithm, including distance, maximum likelihood, and parsimony methods. It incorporates a Bayesian-Jeffreys'-bootstrap analysis to provide a uniform probability-based criterion for comparing the results from diverse algorithms. To examine the usefulness of the method, the origin of the eukaryotes has been investigated by the analysis of ribosomal small subunit RNA sequences. Three common algorithms (paralinear distances, Jukes-Cantor distances, and Kimura distances) support the eocyte topology, whereas one (maximum parsimony) supports the archaebacterial topology, suggesting that the eocyte prokaryotes are the closest prokaryotic relatives of the eukaryotes.

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