Biology

PhyloToL: A Taxon/Gene-Rich Phylogenomic Pipeline to Explore Genome Evolution of Diverse Eukaryotes

Abstract

Estimating multiple sequence alignments (MSAs) and inferring phylogenies are essential for many aspects of comparative biology. Yet, many bioinformatics tools for such analyses have focused on specific clades, with greatest attention paid to plants, animals, and fungi. The rapid increase in high-throughput sequencing (HTS) data from diverse lineages now provides opportunities to estimate evolutionary relationships and gene family evolution across the eukaryotic tree of life. At the same time, these types of data are known to be error-prone (e.g., substitutions, contamination). To address these opportunities and challenges, we have refined a phylogenomic pipeline, now named PhyloToL, to allow easy incorporation of data from HTS studies, to automate production of both MSAs and gene trees, and to identify and remove contaminants. PhyloToL is designed for phylogenomic analyses of diverse lineages across the tree of life (i.e., at scales of >100 My). We demonstrate the power of PhyloToL by assessing stop codon usage in Ciliophora, identifying contamination in a taxon- and gene-rich database and exploring the evolutionary history of chromosomes in the kinetoplastid parasite Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of African sleeping sickness. Benchmarking PhyloToL’s homology assessment against that of OrthoMCL and a published paper on superfamilies of bacterial and eukaryotic organellar outer membrane pore-forming proteins demonstrates the power of our approach for determining gene family membership and inferring gene trees. PhyloToL is highly flexible and allows users to easily explore HTS data, test hypotheses about phylogeny and gene family evolution and combine outputs with third-party tools (e.g., PhyloChromoMap, iGTP).

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