Maximum likelihood molecular clock comb: Analytic solutions

Benny Chor, Amit Khetan, Sagi Snir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Maximum likelihood (ML) is increasingly used as an optimality criterion for selecting evolutionary trees, but finding the global optimum is a hard computational task. Because no general analytic solution is known, numeric techniques such as hill climbing or expectation maximization (EM), are used in order to find optimal parameters for a given tree. So far, analytic solutions were derived only for the simplest model-three taxa, two state characters, under a molecular clock. Four taxa rooted trees have two topologies-the fork (two subtrees with two leaves each) and the comb (one subtree with three leaves, the other with a single leaf). In a previous work, we devised a closed form analytic solution for the ML molecular clock fork. In this work, we extend the state of the art in the area of analytic solutions ML trees to the family of all four taxa trees under the molecular clock assumption. The change from the fork topology to the comb incurs a major increase in the complexity of the underlying algebraic system and requires novel techniques and approaches. We combine the ultrametric properties of molecular clock trees with the Hadamard conjugation to derive a number of topology dependent identities. Employing these identities, we substantially simplify the system of polynomial equations. We finally use tools from algebraic geometry (e.g., Gröbner bases, ideal saturation, resultants) and employ symbolic algebra software to obtain analytic solutions for the comb. We show that in contrast to the fork, the comb has no closed form solutions (expressed by radicals in the input data). In general, four taxa trees can have multiple ML points. In contrast, we can now prove that under the molecular clock assumption, the comb has a unique (local and global) ML point. (Such uniqueness was previously shown for the fork.)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-837
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Computational Biology
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Analytic solutions
  • Hadamard conjugation
  • Maximum likelihood
  • Phylogenetic trees
  • Symbolic manipulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mathematics
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Modeling and Simulation

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