Standardized Phylogenetic Tree: A Reference to Discover Functional Evolution

Toshinori Endo, Soichi Ogishima, Hiroshi Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Functional evolution is often driven by positive natural selection. Although it is thought to be rare in evolution at the molecular level, its effects may be observed as the accelerated evolutionary rates. Therefore one of the effective ways to identify functional evolution is to identify accelerated evolution. Many methods have been developed to test the statistical significance of the accelerated evolutionary rate by comparison with the appropriate reference rate. The rates of synonymous substitution are one of the most useful and popular references, especially for large-scale analyses. On the other hand, these rates are applicable only to a limited evolutionary time period because they saturate quickly - i.e., multiple substitutions happen frequently because of the lower functional constraint. The relative rate test is an alternative method. This technique has an advantage in terms of the saturation effect but is not sufficiently powerful when the evolutionary rate differs considerably among phylogenetic lineages. For the aim to provide a universal reference tree, we propose a method to construct a standardized tree which serves as the reference for accelerated evolutionary rate. The method is based upon multiple molecular phylogenies of single genes with the aim of providing higher reliability. The tree has averaged and normalized branch lengths with standard deviations for statistical neutrality limits. The standard deviation also suggests the reliability level of the branch order. The resulting tree serves as a reference tree for the reliability level of the branch order and the test of evolutionary rate acceleration even when some of the species lineages show an accelerated evolutionary rate for most of their genes due to bottlenecking and other effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S174-S181
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Evolutionary rate
  • Functional evolution
  • Phytogeny
  • Positive natural selection
  • Relative rate test


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