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Phylogenetic tree rooting and inference of lateral gene transfer
PI: Tal Dagan, Institute of General Microbiology, CAU Kiel
Phylogenetic trees are used to describe and investigate the evolutionary relations between entities. In most tree reconstruction methods the inferred phylogeny is unrooted, and the ancestral relations between the taxonomic units are not resolved. The determination of ancestor-descendant relations in an unrooted tree is achieved by the inference of a root node, which a priori can be located on any of the branches of the unrooted tree. Recently we introduced the Minimal Ancestor Deviation (MAD) rooting method, which operates on any phylogenetic tree with branch lengths. The new method explicitly quantifies the major confounding factor - rate variation among lineages - to achieve unprecedented accuracy and consistency. The PhD candidate will take part in further developing this rooting method and researching the applicability of the method for reconstructing donor-recipient relations in gene transfer events during evolution. The project requires background in molecular evolution and programming skills.