Inferring the root of a phylogenetic tree.

Huelsenbeck JP, Bollback JP & Levine AM

(2002) Syst Biol 51, 32-43.

Phylogenetic trees can be rooted by a number of criteria. Here, we introduce a Bayesian method for inferring the root of a phylogenetic tree by using one of several criteria: the outgroup, molecular clock, and nonreversible model of DNA substitution. We perform simulation analyses to examine the relative ability of these three criteria to correctly identify the root of the tree. The outgroup and molecular clock criteria were best able to identify the root of the tree, whereas the nonreversible model was able to identify the root only when the substitution process was highly nonreversible. We also examined the performance of the criteria for a tree of four species for which the topology and root position are well supported. Results of the analyses of these data are consistent with the simulation results.

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Andrew Rambaut, 2007