Embracing heterogeneity: Coalescing the tree of life and the future of phylogenomics
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2019

Building the Tree of Life (ToL) is a major challenge of modern biology, requiring advances in cyberinfrastructure, data collection, theory, and more. Here, we argue that phylogenomics stands to benefit by embracing the many heterogeneous genomic signals emerging from the first decade of large-scale phylogenetic analysis spawned by high-throughput sequencing (HTS). Such signals include those most commonly encountered in phylogenomic datasets, such as incomplete lineage sorting, but also those reticulate processes emerging with greater frequency, such as recombination and introgression. Here we focus specifically on how phylogenetic methods can accommodate the heterogeneity incurred by such population genetic processes; we do not discuss phylogenetic methods that ignore such processes, such as concatenation or supermatrix approaches or supertrees. We suggest that methods of data acquisition and the types of markers used in phylogenomics will remain restricted until a posteriori methods of marker choice are made possible with routine whole-genome sequencing of taxa of interest. We discuss limitations and potential extensions of a model supporting innovation in phylogenomics today, the multispecies coalescent model (MSC). Macroevolutionary models that use phylogenies, such as character mapping, often ignore the heterogeneity on which building phylogenies increasingly rely and suggest that assimilating such heterogeneity is an important goal moving forward. Finally, we argue that an integrative cyberinfrastructure linking all steps of the process of building the ToL, from specimen acquisition in the field to publication and tracking of phylogenomic data, as well as a culture that values contributors at each step, are essential for progress.


Gene flow



Multispecies coalescent model



Gustavo A. Bravo

Harvard University

Alexandre Antonelli

Harvard University

Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre

Göteborgs universitet

Göteborgs botaniska trädgård

Christine D. Bacon

Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre

Göteborgs universitet

Krzysztof Bartoszek

Linköpings universitet

Mozes P.K. Blom

Naturhistoriska riksmuseet

Stella Huynh

Université de Neuchâtel

Robert Graham Jones

Göteborgs universitet

L. Lacey Knowles

University of Michigan

Sangeet Lamichhaney

Harvard University

Thomas Marcussen

Universitetet i Oslo

Hélène Morlon

Ecole Normale Superieure (ENS)

Luay K. Nakhleh

Rice University

Bengt Oxelman

Göteborgs universitet

Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre

Bernard Pfeil

Göteborgs universitet

Alexander Schliep

Niklas Wahlberg

Lunds universitet

Fernanda P. Werneck

Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia

John Wiedenhoeft

Rutgers University

Chalmers, Data- och informationsteknik, Data Science

Sandi Willows-Munro

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Scott Edwards

Harvard University

Chalmers, Matematiska vetenskaper


2167-8359 (ISSN)

Vol. 2019 2 6399



Bioinformatik (beräkningsbiologi)

Bioinformatik och systembiologi



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