Phylogenetic Comparative Methods on Phylogenetic Networks with Reticulations


The goal of phylogenetic comparative methods (PCMs) is to study the distribution of quantitative traits among related species. The observed traits are often seen as the result of a Brownian Motion (BM) along the branches of a phylogenetic tree. Reticulation events such as hybridization, gene flow or horizontal gene transfer, can substantially affect a species’ traits, but are not modeled by a tree. Phylogenetic networks have been designed to represent reticulate evolution. As they become available for downstream analyses, new models of trait evolution are needed, applicable to networks. We develop here an efficient recursive algorithm to compute the phylogenetic variance matrix of a trait on a network, in only one preorder traversal of the network. We then extend the standard PCM tools to this new framework, including phylogenetic regression with covariates (or phylogenetic ANOVA), ancestral trait reconstruction, and Pagel’s $lambda$ test of phylogenetic signal. The trait of a hybrid is sometimes outside of the range of its two parents, for instance because of hybrid vigor or hybrid depression. These two phenomena are rather commonly observed in present-day hybrids. Transgressive evolution can be modeled as a shift in the trait value following a reticulation point. We develop a general framework to handle such shifts and take advantage of the phylogenetic regression view of the problem to design statistical tests for ancestral transgressive evolution in the evolutionary history of a group of species. We study the power of these tests in several scenarios and show that recent events have indeed the strongest impact on the trait distribution of present-day taxa. We apply those methods to a data set of Xiphophorus fishes, to confirm and complete previous analysis in this group. All the methods developed here are available in the Julia package PhyloNetworks.

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