UK Statistical Phylogenetics Group

In this project, we are interested in two of the basic processes underlying speciation: mutation (in a rather broad sense) and genetic isolation. We are specifically interested in refining phylogenetic and phylogenomic methods to elucidate the history of these processes by analysis of macromolecular sequences. The basic innovations are (1) to develop methods for simultaneous derivation of gene trees (cophylogeny), to allow rigorous tests of their codivergence or deviation from codivergence while moving away from the mathematical assumption of independent evolution; and (2) to apply such methods to the large number of genes available from genome sequences, in order to better assess the history of speciation and genome evolution.

Among the biologically important problems to which we will apply these methods are testing the evolutionary relationships (codivergence, orthology, etc.) of genes within a genotype (such as those coding for multimodular enzymes); and studying codivergence and coevolution in host-parasite relationships, including fungal endophytes of grasses.

The data sets we are working on include house keeping genes from endophytes (Schardl's lab) and genes from salamanders (Weisrock's lab).