Sagi Snir, Institue of Evolution, Univ. of Haifa

NBRL seminar room (Fishbach 430)

21 March, 2010

Phylogenetic Analysis - Recent Developments and New Challenges

The study of evolution and the construction of phylogenetic (evolutionary) trees are fundamental subjects in biology.  Two trends dominate the state of the art in current phylogenetic analysis: The exponentially accumulating genetic molecular data on one hand, and the impressive advancement in computational, as well as statistical, phylogenetic methods on the other hand.  These were supposed to bring us closer to resolving one of the most fundamental issues in biology – the reconstruction of the tree of life. This tree should encompass the evolutionary history of all living creatures on Earth and trace back to the most ancient microbial ancestor a few billions of years back.

Ironically, these dramatic developments have only blurred our traditional beliefs and seem to make this goal harder than initially thought. This is largely due to horizontal transfer (HT), the passage of genetic material between organisms not through lineal descent. Evolution in light of HT tangles the traditional universal tree of life, turning it into a network of relationships. This phenomenon is particularly conspicuous and significant at the early stages of evolution between prokaryotes, the only organisms existing at the time.

 In this talk, I will review the developments in phylogenetic analysis including state of the art approaches in HT detection

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