A New Sausage Recipe for Evolutionary Biologists

A new paper published in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution contains a new recipe for making phylogenetic sausage,

“We suggest that the coalescence protocol utilized by McCormack et al. (2012) is the equivalent of making phylogenetic sausage. In the messy construction of a sausage, a butcher grinds together chunks of undesirable cuts (e.g., lips, heart valves, assorted fatty bits, etc.), mixes this flotsam with spices, forcibly extrudes the concoction into a casing made of intestinal lining, and forms a product of passable palatability. Likewise, in the first step of the shortcut coalescence procedure, undesirable gene trees were reconstructed from small, uninformative bits of the genome (Fig. 7; Table 1) that in some cases have wildly varying rates of evolution in different mammalian lineages (Fig. 10). The arbitrarily resolved, inaccurate gene trees were then forced into a final species tree casing under the assumption that all gene tree conflicts are due to deep coalescence. Utilizing this crude and messy process, a phylogenetic hypothesis.”
–Gatesy & Springer 2014. Phylogenetic analysis at deep timescales: Unreliable gene trees, bypassed hidden support, and the coalescence/concatalescence conundrum. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 80, 231-266.

I applaud the authors for their novel contribution of a phylogenetic sausage recipe.
If it’s not too late, then perhaps the journal could use one of these possible cover images:

Cover Submission V.1: Rooted 3-taxa Phylogenetic Sausage Tree

Cover Submission V.2: Rooted 3-taxa Phylogenetic Sausage Tree

sausageMPEunrooted

Cover Submission V.1: Unrooted 4-taxa Phylogenetic Sausage Tree

 

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Visiting Researcher Dr. Mariana Morando

Mariana and Adam at the Burke Museum.

Mariana and Adam at the Burke Museum.

Our friend and colleague Dr. Mariana Morando visited the lab for a week to collect SNP data for some Argentinian lizards. Mariana is on sabbatical this year at BYU in the Jack Sites lab. Mariana set a new record for quickest ddRADseq data collection in our lab – she went from DNA to finished libraries in just 2.5 days! Congratulations to Mariana on a job well done.

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New NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biological Collections

NSF just released the updated program solicitation for the Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB), and one of the three key BIO programs is Research Using Biological Collections. This is an exciting update for museum-based researchers. They are looking to fund transformative approaches that use biological collections in innovative ways to address big challenges in biology. From the solicitation, “Priority may be given to applicants who integrate biological collections and associated resources with other types of data in an effort to forge new insight into areas traditionally funded by BIO. Examples of key questions in biology of interest include, but are not limited to, links between genotype and phenotype, evolutionary developmental biology, comparative approaches in functional and developmental neurobiology, and the biophysics of nanostructures. Using collections as a resource for grand challenge questions in biology is expected to present new opportunities to advance understanding of biological processes and systems, inspiring new discoveries in areas with relevance to other disciplines with overlapping interests in biological systems. Applicants must document access to the selected collection(s) in the research and training plan.”

You can read the full solicitation here.

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SNP Data Processing Tools Online

We recently released a new software package (shinyPhrynomics) for single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data analysis. The software package is a collection of R codes for transforming your SNP data matrix into various popular phylogenetic program formats, including RAxML, MrBayes, and SNAPP. Options for plotting data include summaries of genetic  variation and missing data.

These tools are available for download and via a friendly online graphical user interface.

Check out our new Software page for links to this and other data analysis tools and methods.

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2014 JMIH “Herp” Meetings, Chattanooga Tennessee

The annual JMIH “herp” meetings were held last week in Chattanooga Tennessee. JMIH2014 The meetings were great, and there were plenty of great talks by UW researchers. Jared Grummer won 1st runner-up in the HL Graduate Research Award competition for best student presentation. During the genomics session, Charles Linkem took his audience on a tour of the “anomaly zone” (a mythical place in phylogeny land where everything you do is wrong). Matt McElroy charmed everyone with his talk on thermal adaptation in Anolis lizards – the conclusion is that they’re hot.   Rachel Arnold’s talk on frog fish phylogeny (her dissertation work) was amazing. For those of  you who don’t know, I should have mentioned that fish people present at the herp meetings too.

The meetings ended on a high note late Monday night with the always entertaining SSAR auction. In case you missed the auction, you can watch me get outbid on a really expensive snake hemipene t-shirt. The t-shirt sold for $270!

 

We’re all looking forward to future herp meetings in Reno & KU in 2015, and New Orleans in 2016.

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