CS 685-001/PPA 784-003/STA 695-001 Spring 2012

Phylogenetic Analysis and Molecular Evolution

Course Description

One of the key tasks to study molecular sequence data is phylogenetics, the study of evolutionary relatedness among various groups of organisms from molecular sequence data. Finding out evolutionary relatedness among various groups of organisms and the reconstruction of the ancestral relationships have applications including predicting evolution of fast evolution species, such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), finding the origin of life (the tree of life project, http://www.tolweb.org/tree/) and coevolutions among different species. This highly interdisciplinary course is self-contained and is designed to introduce graduate and advanced undergraduate-level students (permission to enroll is required) to the fast growing field of Bioinformatics (with a lot of research opportunities and funding).

The course will cover methods underlying molecular phylogeny studies of protein and nucleic acid sequences to elucidate evolutionary histories and relationships of genes and organisms, as summarized in phylogenetic trees. Students will learn theory of molecular sequence evolution, methods of data acquisition, utilization of sequence databases, methods of phylogenetic analysis, and the interpretation and evaluation of phylogenetic trees.

The course will be interdisciplinary and collaborative in nature, with students and instructors from three relevant disciplines: statistics, computer science, and the life sciences. Students will be introduced to the basics of phylogenetics and phylogenomics from the perspectives of all three disciplines, and will gain more in-depth knowledge through instruction and assignments tailored to their own areas of specialization. Projects that team students with complementary skills will illustrate the interdisciplinary nature of this science and the potential that can be realized through such collaborations.


Selected topics


There will be graded homework, and a final group project: these will count 30% and 70% of your grade, respectively.

No homework will be made up for credit, but it is important to make it up for your own benefit. Late homework will not be accepted. No make up final. Correctness, completeness and presentation of turned-in assignments affects the grade.

Recommended books

Papers to read

Lecture notes

OLD lecture notes (Password is needed to access): LINK


Predator and Prey model: LINK