Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Genomics and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Bootstrap, Bayesian probability and maximum likelihood mapping: exploring new tools for comparative genome analyses

Olga Zhaxybayeva and J Peter Gogarten*

Author affiliations

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology University of Connecticut 75 North Eagleville Road Storrs, CT 06269-3044 USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2002, 3:4  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-3-4

Published: 5 February 2002

Abstract

Background

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) played an important role in shaping microbial genomes. In addition to genes under sporadic selection, HGT also affects housekeeping genes and those involved in information processing, even ribosomal RNA encoding genes. Here we describe tools that provide an assessment and graphic illustration of the mosaic nature of microbial genomes.

Results

We adapted the Maximum Likelihood (ML) mapping to the analyses of all detected quartets of orthologous genes found in four genomes. We have automated the assembly and analyses of these quartets of orthologs given the selection of four genomes. We compared the ML-mapping approach to more rigorous Bayesian probability and Bootstrap mapping techniques. The latter two approaches appear to be more conservative than the ML-mapping approach, but qualitatively all three approaches give equivalent results. All three tools were tested on mitochondrial genomes, which presumably were inherited as a single linkage group.

Conclusions

In some instances of interphylum relationships we find nearly equal numbers of quartets strongly supporting the three possible topologies. In contrast, our analyses of genome quartets containing the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. indicate that a large part of the cyanobacterial genome is related to that of low GC Gram positives. Other groups that had been suggested as sister groups to the cyanobacteria contain many fewer genes that group with the Synechocystis orthologs. Interdomain comparisons of genome quartets containing the archaeon Halobacterium sp. revealed that Halobacterium sp. shares more genes with Bacteria that live in the same environment than with Bacteria that are more closely related based on rRNA phylogeny . Many of these genes encode proteins involved in substrate transport and metabolism and in information storage and processing. The performed analyses demonstrate that relationships among prokaryotes cannot be accurately depicted by or inferred from the tree-like evolution of a core of rarely transferred genes; rather prokaryotic genomes are mosaics in which different parts have different evolutionary histories. Probability mapping is a valuable tool to explore the mosaic nature of genomes.