10 Jan 2024
An approximate likelihood method reveals ancient gene flow between human, chimpanzee and gorillaNicolas Galtier https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.07.06.547897
Aphid: A Novel Statistical Method for Dissecting Gene Flow and Lineage Sorting in Phylogenetic ConflictRecommended by Alan Rogers based on reviews by Richard Durbin and 2 anonymous reviewers
Galtier  introduces “Aphid,” a new statistical method that estimates the contributions of gene flow (GF) and incomplete lineage sorting (ILS) to phylogenetic conflict. Aphid is based on the observation that GF tends to make gene genealogies shorter, whereas ILS makes them longer. Rather than fitting the full likelihood, it models the distribution of gene genealogies as a mixture of several canonical gene genealogies in which coalescence times are set equal to their expectations under different models. This simplification makes Aphid far faster than competing methods. In addition, it deals gracefully with bidirectional gene flow—an impossibility under competing models. Because of these advantages, Aphid represents an important addition to the toolkit of evolutionary genetics.
In the interest of speed, Aphid makes several simplifying assumptions. Yet even when these were violated, Aphid did well at estimating parameters from simulated data. It seems to be reasonably robust.
Aphid studies phylogenetic conflict, which occurs when some loci imply one phylogenetic tree and other loci imply another. This happens when the interval between successive speciation events is fairly short. If this interval is too short, however, Aphid’s approximations break down, and its estimates are biased. Galtier suggests caution when the fraction of discordant phylogenetic trees exceeds 50–55%. Thus, Aphids will be most useful when the interval between speciation events is short, but not too short.
Galtier applies the new method to three sets of primate data. In two of these data sets (baboons and African apes), Aphid detects gene flow that would likely be missed by competing methods. These competing methods are primarily sensitive to gene flow that is asymmetric in two senses: (1) greater flow in one direction than the other, and (2) unequal gene flow connecting an outgroup to two sister species. Aphid finds evidence of symmetric gene flow in the ancestry of baboons and also in that of African apes. The data suggest that ancestral humans and chimpanzees both interbred with ancestral gorillas, and at about the same rate. Aphid’s ability to detect this signature sets it apart from competing methods.
 Nicolas Galtier (2023) “An approximate likelihood method reveals ancient gene flow between human, chimpanzee and gorilla”. bioRxiv, ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Mathematical and Computational Biology. https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.07.06.547897
|An approximate likelihood method reveals ancient gene flow between human, chimpanzee and gorilla
|<p>Gene flow and incomplete lineage sorting are two distinct sources of phylogenetic conflict, i.e., gene trees that differ in topology from each other and from the species tree. Distinguishing between the two processes is a key objective of curre...
|Evolutionary Biology, Genetics and population Genetics, Genomics and Transcriptomics
09 Nov 2023
A mechanistic-statistical approach to infer dispersal and demography from invasion dynamics, applied to a plant pathogenMéline Saubin, Jérome Coville, Constance Xhaard, Pascal Frey, Samuel Soubeyrand, Fabien Halkett, Frédéric Fabre https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.03.21.533642
A mechanistic-statistical approach for the field-based study of invasion dynamicsRecommended by Hirohisa Kishino based on reviews by 2 anonymous reviewers
To study the annual invasion of a tree pathogen (Melampsora larici-populina, a fungal species responsible for the poplar rust disease), Xhaard et al (2012) had conducted a spatiotemporal survey along the Durance River valley in the French Alps over nearly 200 km, measuring sampled leaves and twigs from 40 to 150 trees at 12 evenly spaced study sites at seven-time points. By combining Bayesian genetic assignment and a landscape epidemiology approach, they were able to estimate the genetic origin and annual spread of the plant pathogen during a single epidemic.
The observed temporal variation in the spatial pattern of infection rates allowed Saubin et al (2023) to estimate the key factors that determine the speed of the invasion dynamics. In particular, it is crucial to estimate the probability and extent of long-distance dispersal. The dynamics of the macroscale population density was formulated by the reaction-diffusion (R.D.) model and by the integro-difference (I.D.) model. Both consist of the diffusion/dispersal component and the reaction component. In the I.D. model, the kernel function represents the distribution of the dispersion. The likelihood function was obtained by coupling the mathematical model of the population dynamics and the statistical model of the observational process.
Saubin et al (2023) considered a thin-tailed Gaussian kernel, a heavy-tailed exponential kernel, and a fat-tailed exponential power kernel. The numerical simulation reflecting the above survey confirmed the identifiability of the propagation kernel and the accuracy of the parameter estimation. In particular, the above survey had the high power to identify the model with frequent long-distance dispersal. The data from the survey selected the exponential power kernel with confidence. The mean dispersal distance was estimated to be 2.01 km. The exponential power was 0.24. This parameter value predicts that 5% of the dispersals will have a distance > 14.3 km and 1% will have a distance > 36.0 km. The mechanistic-statistical approach presented here may become a new standard for the field-based studies of invasion dynamics.
Saubin, M., Coville, J., Xhaard, C., Frey, P., Soubeyrand, S., Halkett, F., and Fabre, F. (2023). A mechanistic-statistical approach to infer dispersal and demography from invasion dynamics, applied to a plant pathogen. bioRxiv, ver. 5 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Mathematical and Computational Biology. https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.03.21.533642
Xhaard, C., Barrès, B., Andrieux, A., Bousset, L., Halkett, F., and Frey, P. (2012). Disentangling the genetic origins of a plant pathogen during disease spread using an original molecular epidemiology approach. Molecular Ecology, 21(10):2383-2398. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05556.x
|A mechanistic-statistical approach to infer dispersal and demography from invasion dynamics, applied to a plant pathogen
|Méline Saubin, Jérome Coville, Constance Xhaard, Pascal Frey, Samuel Soubeyrand, Fabien Halkett, Frédéric Fabre
|<p style="text-align: justify;">Dispersal, and in particular the frequency of long-distance dispersal (LDD) events, has strong implications for population dynamics with possibly the acceleration of the colonisation front, and for evolution with po...
|Dynamical systems, Ecology, Epidemiology, Probability and statistics
12 Oct 2023
When Three Trees Go to WarLeo van Iersel and Mark Jones and Mathias Weller https://hal.science/hal-04013152v3
Bounding the reticulation number for three phylogenetic treesRecommended by Simone Linz based on reviews by Guillaume Scholz and Stefan Grünewald
Reconstructing a phylogenetic network for a set of conflicting phylogenetic trees on the same set of leaves remains an active strand of research in mathematical and computational phylogenetic since 2005, when Baroni et al.  showed that the minimum number of reticulations h(T,T') needed to simultaneously embed two rooted binary phylogenetic trees T and T' into a rooted binary phylogenetic network is one less than the size of a maximum acyclic agreement forest for T and T'. In the same paper, the authors showed that h(T,T') is bounded from above by n-2, where n is the number of leaves of T and T' and that this bound is sharp. That is, for a fixed n, there exist two rooted binary phylogenetic trees T and T' such that h(T,T')=n-2.
Since 2005, many papers have been published that develop exact algorithms and heuristics to solve the above NP-hard minimisation problem in practice, which is often referred to as Minimum Hybridisation in the literature, and that further investigate the mathematical underpinnings of Minimum Hybridisation and related problems. However, many such studies are restricted to two trees and much less is known about Minimum Hybridisation for when the input consists of more than two phylogenetic trees, which is the more relevant cases from a biological point of view.
In , van Iersel, Jones, and Weller establish the first lower bound for the minimum reticulation number for more than two rooted binary phylogenetic trees, with a focus on exactly three trees. The above-mentioned connection between the minimum number of reticulations and maximum acyclic agreement forests does not extend to three (or more) trees. Instead, to establish their result, the authors use multi-labelled trees as an intermediate structure between phylogenetic trees and phylogenetic networks to show that, for each ε>0, there exist three caterpillar trees on n leaves such that any phylogenetic network that simultaneously embeds these three trees has at least (3/2 - ε)n reticulations. Perhaps unsurprising, caterpillar trees were also used by Baroni et al.  to establish that their upper bound on h(T,T') is sharp. Structurally, these trees have the property that each internal vertex is adjacent to a leaf. Each caterpillar tree can therefore be viewed as a sequence of characters, and it is exactly this viewpoint that is heavily used in . More specifically, sequences with short common subsequences correspond to caterpillar trees that need many reticulations when embedded in a phylogenetic network. It would consequently be interesting to further investigate connections between caterpillar trees and certain types of sequences. Can they be used to shed more light on bounds for the minimum reticulation number?
 Baroni, M., Grünewald, S., Moulton, V., and Semple, C. (2005) "Bounding the number of hybridisation events for a consistent evolutionary history". J. Math. Biol. 51, 171–182. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00285-005-0315-9
|When Three Trees Go to War
|Leo van Iersel and Mark Jones and Mathias Weller
|<p style="text-align: justify;">How many reticulations are needed for a phylogenetic network to display a given set of k phylogenetic trees on n leaves? For k = 2, Baroni, Semple, and Steel [Ann. Comb. 8, 391-408 (2005)] showed that the answer is ...
|Combinatorics, Evolutionary Biology, Graph theory
18 Sep 2023
General encoding of canonical k-mersRoland Wittler https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.03.09.531845
Minimal encodings of canonical k-mers for general alphabets and even k-mer sizesRecommended by Paul Medvedev based on reviews by 2 anonymous reviewers
As part of many bioinformatics tools, one encodes a k-mer, which is a string, into an integer. The natural encoding uses a bijective function to map the k-mers onto the interval [0, s^k - ], where s is the alphabet size. This encoding is minimal, in the sense that the encoded integer ranges from 0 to the number of represented k-mers minus 1.
However, often one is only interested in encoding canonical k-mers. One common definition is that a k-mer is canonical if it is lexicographically not larger than its reverse complement. In this case, only about half the k-mers from the universe of k-mers are canonical, and the natural encoding is no longer minimal. For the special case of a DNA alphabet and odd k, there exists a "parity-based" encoding for canonical k-mers which is minimal.
In , the author presents a minimal encoding for canonical k-mers that works for general alphabets and both odd and even k. They also give an efficient bit-based representation for the DNA alphabet.
This paper fills a theoretically interesting and often overlooked gap in how to encode k-mers as integers. It is not yet clear what practical applications this encoding will have, as the author readily acknowledges in the manuscript. Neither the author nor the reviewers are aware of any practical situations where the lack of a minimal encoding "leads to serious limitations." However, even in an applied field like bioinformatics, it would be short-sighted to only value theoretical work that has an immediate application; often, the application is several hops away and not apparent at the time of the original work.
In fact, I would speculate that there may be significant benefits reaped if there was more theoretical attention paid to the fact that k-mers are often restricted to be canonical. Many papers in the field sweep under the rug the fact that k-mers are made canonical, leaving it as an implementation detail. This may indicate that the theory to describe and analyze this situation is underdeveloped. This paper makes a step forward to develop this theory, and I am hopeful that it may lead to substantial practical impact in the future.
 Roland Wittler (2023) "General encoding of canonical k-mers. bioRxiv, ver.2, peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Mathematical and Computational Biology https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.03.09.531845
|General encoding of canonical *k*-mers
|<p style="text-align: justify;">To index or compare sequences efficiently, often <em>k</em>-mers, i.e., substrings of fixed length <em>k</em>, are used. For efficient indexing or storage, <em>k</em>-mers are encoded as integers, e.g., applying som...
|Combinatorics, Computational complexity, Genomics and Transcriptomics
02 May 2023
Population genetics: coalescence rate and demographic parameters inferenceOlivier Mazet, Camille Noûs https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2207.02111
Estimates of Effective Population Size in Subdivided PopulationsRecommended by Alan Rogers based on reviews by 2 anonymous reviewers
We often use genetic data from a single site, or even a single individual, to estimate the history of effective population size, Ne, over time scales in excess of a million years. Mazet and Noûs  emphasize that such estimates may not mean what they seem to mean. The ups and downs of Ne may reflect changes in gene flow or selection, rather than changes in census population size. In fact, gene flow may cause Ne to decline even if the rate of gene flow has remained constant.
Consider for example the estimates of archaic population size in Fig. 1, which show an apparent decline in population size between roughly 700 kya and 300 kya. It is tempting to interpret this as evidence of a declining number of individuals, but that is not the only plausible interpretation.
Each of these estimates is based on the genome of a single diploid individual. As we trace the ancestry of that individual backwards into the past, the ancestors are likely to remain in the same locale for at least a generation or two. Being neighbors, there’s a chance they will mate. This implies that in the recent past, the ancestors of a sampled individual lived in a population of small effective size.
As we continue backwards into the past, there is more and more time for the ancestors to move around on the landscape. The farther back we go, the less likely they are to be neighbors, and the less likely they are to mate. In this more remote past, the ancestors of our sample lived in a population of larger effective size, even if neither the number of individuals nor the rate of gene flow has changed.
For awhile then, Ne should increase as we move backwards into the past. This process does not continue forever, because eventually the ancestors will be randomly distributed across the population as a whole. We therefore expect Ne to increase towards an asymptote, which represents the effective size of the entire population.
This simple story gets more complex if there is change in either the census size or the rate of gene flow. Mazet and Noûs  have shown that one can mimic real estimates of population history using models in which the rate of gene flow varies, but census size does not. This implies that the curves in Fig. 1 are ambiguous. The observed changes in Ne could reflect changes in census size, gene flow, or both.
For this reason, Mazet and Noûs  would like to replace the term “effective population size” with an alternative, the “inverse instantaneous coalescent rate,” or IIRC. I don’t share this preference, because the same critique could be made of all definitions of Ne. For example, Wright [3, p. 108] showed in 1931 that Ne varies in response to the sex ratio, and this implies that changes in Ne need not involve any change in census size. This is also true when populations are geographically structured, as Mazet and Noûs  have emphasized, but this does not seem to require a new vocabulary.
Figure 1: PSMC estimates of the history of population size based on three archaic genomes: two Neanderthals and a Denisovan .
Mazet and Noûs  also show that estimates of Ne can vary in response to selection. It is not hard to see why such an effect might exist. In genomic regions affected by directional or purifying selection, heterozygosity is low, and common ancestors tend to be recent. Such regions may contribute to small estimates of recent Ne. In regions under balancing selection, heterozygosity is high, and common ancestors tend to be ancient. Such regions may contribute to large estimates of ancient Ne. The magnitude of this effect presumably depends on the fraction of the genome under selection and the rate of recombination.
In summary, this article describes several processes that can affect estimates of the history of effective population size. This makes existing estimates ambiguous. For example, should we interpret Fig. 1 as evidence of a declining number of archaic individuals, or in terms of gene flow among archaic subpopulations? But these questions also present research opportunities. If the observed decline reflects gene flow, what does this imply about the geographic structure of archaic populations? Can we resolve the ambiguity by integrating samples from different locales, or using archaeological estimates of population density or interregional trade?
 Fabrizio Mafessoni et al. “A high-coverage Neandertal genome from Chagyrskaya Cave”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 117.26 (2020), pp. 15132–15136. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2004944117.
 Olivier Mazet and Camille Noûs. “Population genetics: coalescence rate and demographic parameters inference”. arXiv, ver. 2 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community In Mathematical and Computational Biology (2023). https://doi.org/10.48550/ARXIV.2207.02111.
 Sewall Wright. “Evolution in mendelian populations”. Genetics 16 (1931), pp. 97–159. https://doi.org/10.48550/ARXIV.2207.0211110.1093/genetics/16.2.97.
|Population genetics: coalescence rate and demographic parameters inference
|Olivier Mazet, Camille Noûs
|<p style="text-align: justify;">We propose in this article a brief description of the work, over almost a decade, resulting from a collaboration between mathematicians and biologists from four different research laboratories, identifiable as the c...
|Genetics and population Genetics, Probability and statistics
|Joseph Lachance, Anonymous
18 Apr 2023
Cancer phylogenetic tree inference at scale from 1000s of single cell genomesSohrab Salehi, Fatemeh Dorri, Kevin Chern, Farhia Kabeer, Nicole Rusk, Tyler Funnell, Marc J Williams, Daniel Lai, Mirela Andronescu, Kieran R. Campbell, Andrew McPherson, Samuel Aparicio, Andrew Roth, Sohrab Shah, and Alexandre Bouchard-Côté https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.06.058180
Phylogenetic reconstruction from copy number aberration in large scale, low-depth genome-wide single-cell data.Recommended by Amaury Lambert based on reviews by 3 anonymous reviewers
The paper  presents and applies a new Bayesian inference method of phylogenetic reconstruction for multiple sequence alignments in the case of low sequencing coverage but diverse copy number aberrations (CNA), with applications to single cell sequencing of tumors.
The idea is to take advantage of CNA to reconstruct the topology of the phylogenetic tree of sequenced cells in a first step (the `sitka' method), and in a second step to assign single nucleotide variants (SNV) to tree edges (and then calibrate their lengths) (the `sitka-snv' method).
The data are summarized into a binary-valued CxL matrix Y, where C is the number of cells and L is the number of loci (here, loci are segments of prescribed length called `bins'). The entry of Y at row i and column j is 1 (otherwise 0) iff in the ancestral lineage of cell i, at least one genomic rearrangement has occurred, and more specifically the gain or loss of a segment with at least one endpoint in locus j or in locus j+1. The authors expect the infinite-allele assumption to approximately hold (i.e., that at most one mutation occurs at any given marker and that 0 is the ancestral state). They refer to this assumption as the `perfect phylogeny assumption'. By only recording from CNA events the endpoints at which they occur, the authors lose the information on copy number, but they gain the assumption of independence of the mutational processes occurring at different sites, which approximately holds for CNA endpoints.
The goal of sitka is to produce a posterior distribution on phylogenetic trees conditional on the matrix Y , where here a phylogenetic tree is understood as containing the information on 1) the topology of the tree but not its edge lengths, and 2) for each edge, the identity of markers having undergone a mutation, in the sense of the previous paragraph.
The results of the method are tested against synthetic datasets simulated under various assumptions, including conditions violating the perfect phylogeny assumption and compared to results obtained under other baseline methods. The method is extended to assign SNV to edges of the tree inferred by sitka. It is also applied to real datasets of single cell genomes of tumors.
The manuscript is very well-written, with a high degree of detail. The method is novel, scalable, fast and appears to perform favorably compared to other approaches. It has been applied in independent publications, for example to multi-year time-series single-cell whole-genome sequencing of tumors, in order to infer the fitness landscape and its dynamics through time, see .
The reviewing process has taken too long, mainly because of other commitments I had during the period and to the difficulty of finding reviewers. Let me apologize to the authors and thank them for their patience as well as for the scientific rigor they brought to their revisions and answers to reviewers, who I also warmly thank for their quality work.
 Sohrab Salehi, Fatemeh Dorri, Kevin Chern, Farhia Kabeer, Nicole Rusk, Tyler Funnell, Marc J Williams, Daniel Lai, Mirela Andronescu, Kieran R. Campbell, Andrew McPherson, Samuel Aparicio, Andrew Roth, Sohrab Shah, and Alexandre Bouchard-Côté. Cancer phylogenetic tree inference at scale from 1000s of single cell genomes (2023). bioRxiv, 2020.05.06.058180, ver. 4 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Mathematical and Computational Biology.
 Sohrab Salehi, Farhia Kabeer, Nicholas Ceglia, Mirela Andronescu, Marc J. Williams, Kieran R. Campbell, Tehmina Masud, Beixi Wang, Justina Biele, Jazmine Brimhall, David Gee, Hakwoo Lee, Jerome Ting, Allen W. Zhang, Hoa Tran, Ciara O’Flanagan, Fatemeh Dorri, Nicole Rusk, Teresa Ruiz de Algara, So Ra Lee, Brian Yu Chieh Cheng, Peter Eirew, Takako Kono, Jenifer Pham, Diljot Grewal, Daniel Lai, Richard Moore, Andrew J. Mungall, Marco A. Marra, IMAXT Consortium, Andrew McPherson, Alexandre Bouchard-Côté, Samuel Aparicio & Sohrab P. Shah. Clonal fitness inferred from time-series modelling of single-cell cancer genomes (2021). Nature 595, 585–590. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03648-3
|Cancer phylogenetic tree inference at scale from 1000s of single cell genomes
|Sohrab Salehi, Fatemeh Dorri, Kevin Chern, Farhia Kabeer, Nicole Rusk, Tyler Funnell, Marc J Williams, Daniel Lai, Mirela Andronescu, Kieran R. Campbell, Andrew McPherson, Samuel Aparicio, Andrew Roth, Sohrab Shah, and Alexandre Bouchard-Côté
|<p style="text-align: justify;">A new generation of scalable single cell whole genome sequencing (scWGS) methods allows unprecedented high resolution measurement of the evolutionary dynamics of cancer cell populations. Phylogenetic reconstruction ...
|Evolutionary Biology, Genetics and population Genetics, Genomics and Transcriptomics, Machine learning, Probability and statistics
14 Mar 2023
Marker and source-marker reprogramming of Most Permissive Boolean networks and ensembles with BoNesisLoïc Paulevé https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2207.13307
Reprogramming of locally-monotone Boolean networks with BoNesisRecommended by Sergiu Ivanov based on reviews by Ismail Belgacem and 1 anonymous reviewer
Reprogramming of cellular networks is a well known challenge in computational biology consisting first of all in properly representing an ensemble of networks having a role in a phenomenon of interest, and secondly in designing strategies to alter the functioning of this ensemble in the desired direction. Important applications involve disease study: a therapy can be seen as a reprogramming strategy, and the disease itself can be considered a result of a series of adversarial reprogramming actions. The origins of this domain go back to the seminal paper by Barabási et al.  which formalized the concept of network medicine.
An abstract tool which has gathered considerable success in network medicine and network biology are Boolean networks: sets of Boolean variables, each equipped with a Boolean update function describing how to compute the next value of the variable from the values of the other variables. Despite apparent dissimilarity with the biological systems which involve varying quantities and continuous processes, Boolean networks have been very effective in representing biological networks whose entities are typically seen as being on or off. Particular examples are protein signalling networks as well as gene regulatory networks.
The paper  by Loïc Paulevé presents a versatile tool for tackling reprogramming of Boolean networks seen as models of biological networks. The problem of reprogramming is often formulated as the problem of finding a set of perturbations which guarantee some properties on the attractors. The work  relies on the most permissive semantics , which together with the modelling assumption allows for considerable speed-up in the practically relevant subclass of locally-monotone Boolean networks.
The paper is structured as a tutorial. It starts by introducing the formalism, defining 4 different general variants of reprogramming under the most permissive semantics, and presenting evaluations of their complexity in terms of the polynomial hierarchy. The author then describes the software tool BoNesis which can handle different problems related to Boolean networks, and in particular the 4 reprogramming variants. The presentation includes concrete code examples with their output, which should be very helpful for future users.
The paper  introduces a novel scenario: reprogramming of ensembles of Boolean networks delineated by some properties, including for example the property of having a given interaction graph. Ensemble reprogramming looks particularly promising in situations in which the biological knowledge is insufficient to fully determine all the update functions, i.e. in the majority of modelling situations. Finally, the author also shows how BoNesis can be used to deal with sequential reprogramming, which is another promising direction in computational controllability, potentially enabling more efficient therapies [4,5].
|Marker and source-marker reprogramming of Most Permissive Boolean networks and ensembles with BoNesis
|<p style="text-align: justify;">Boolean networks (BNs) are discrete dynamical systems with applications to the modeling of cellular behaviors. In this paper, we demonstrate how the software BoNesis can be employed to exhaustively identify combinat...
|Combinatorics, Computational complexity, Dynamical systems, Molecular Biology, Systems biology
|Ismail Belgacem, Anonymous
19 Sep 2022
HMMploidy: inference of ploidy levels from short-read sequencing dataSamuele Soraggi, Johanna Rhodes, Isin Altinkaya, Oliver Tarrant, Francois Balloux, Matthew C Fisher, Matteo Fumagalli https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.29.450340
Detecting variation in ploidy within and between genomesRecommended by Alan Rogers based on reviews by Barbara Holland, Benjamin Peter and Nicolas Galtier
Soraggi et al.  describe HMMploidy, a statistical method that takes DNA sequencing data as input and uses a hidden Markov model to estimate ploidy. The method allows ploidy to vary not only between individuals, but also between and even within chromosomes. This allows the method to detect aneuploidy and also chromosomal regions in which multiple paralogous loci have been mistakenly assembled on top of one another.
HMMploidy estimates genotypes and ploidy simultaneously, with a separate estimate for each genome. The genome is divided into a series of non-overlapping windows (typically 100), and HMMploidy provides a separate estimate of ploidy within each window of each genome. The method is thus estimating a large number of parameters, and one might assume that this would reduce its accuracy. However, it benefits from large samples of genomes. Large samples increase the accuracy of internal allele frequency estimates, and this improves the accuracy of genotype and ploidy estimates. In large samples of low-coverage genomes, HMMploidy outperforms all other estimators. It does not require a reference genome of known ploidy. The power of the method increases with coverage and sample size but decreases with ploidy. Consequently, high coverage or large samples may be needed if ploidy is high.
The method is slower than some alternative methods, but run time is not excessive. Run time increases with number of windows but isn't otherwise affected by genome size. It should be feasible even with large genomes, provided that the number of windows is not too large. The authors apply their method and several alternatives to isolates of a pathogenic yeast, Cryptococcus neoformans, obtained from HIV-infected patients. With these data, HMMploidy replicated previous findings of polyploidy and aneuploidy. There were several surprises. For example, HMMploidy estimates the same ploidy in two isolates taken on different days from a single patient, even though sequencing coverage was three times as high on the later day as on the earlier one. These findings were replicated in data that were down-sampled to mimic low coverage.
Three alternative methods (ploidyNGS , nQuire, and nQuire.Den ) estimated the highest ploidy considered in all samples from each patient. The present authors suggest that these results are artifactual and reflect the wide variation in allele frequencies. Because of this variation, these methods seem to have preferred the model with the largest number of parameters. HMMploidy represents a new and potentially useful tool for studying variation in ploidy. It will be of most use in studying the genetics of asexual organisms and cancers, where aneuploidy imposes little or no penalty on reproduction. It should also be useful for detecting assembly errors in de novo genome sequences from non-model organisms.
 Augusto Corrêa dos Santos R, Goldman GH, Riaño-Pachón DM (2017) ploidyNGS: visually exploring ploidy with Next Generation Sequencing data. Bioinformatics, 33, 2575–2576. https://doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btx204
 Soraggi S, Rhodes J, Altinkaya I, Tarrant O, Balloux F, Fisher MC, Fumagalli M (2022) HMMploidy: inference of ploidy levels from short-read sequencing data. bioRxiv, 2021.06.29.450340, ver. 6 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Mathematical and Computational Biology. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.29.450340
 Weiß CL, Pais M, Cano LM, Kamoun S, Burbano HA (2018) nQuire: a statistical framework for ploidy estimation using next generation sequencing. BMC Bioinformatics, 19, 122. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12859-018-2128-z
|HMMploidy: inference of ploidy levels from short-read sequencing data
|Samuele Soraggi, Johanna Rhodes, Isin Altinkaya, Oliver Tarrant, Francois Balloux, Matthew C Fisher, Matteo Fumagalli
|<p>The inference of ploidy levels from genomic data is important to understand molecular mechanisms underpinning genome evolution. However, current methods based on allele frequency and sequencing depth variation do not have power to infer ploidy ...
|Design and analysis of algorithms, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics and population Genetics, Probability and statistics
21 Feb 2022
Consistency of orthology and paralogy constraints in the presence of gene transfersMark Jones, Manuel Lafond, Celine Scornavacca https://arxiv.org/abs/1705.01240
Allowing gene transfers doesn't make life easier for inferring orthology and paralogyRecommended by Barbara Holland based on reviews by 2 anonymous reviewers
Determining if genes are orthologous (i.e. homologous genes whose most common ancestor represents a speciation) or paralogous (homologous genes whose most common ancestor represents a duplication) is a foundational problem in bioinformatics. For instance, the input to almost all phylogenetic methods is a sequence alignment of genes assumed to be orthologous. Understanding if genes are paralogs or orthologs can also be important for assigning function, for example genes that have diverged following duplication may be more likely to have neofunctionalised or subfunctionalised compared to genes that have diverged following speciation, which may be more likely to have continued in a similar role.
This paper by Jones et al (2022) contributes to a wide range of literature addressing the inference of orthology/paralogy relations but takes a different approach to explaining inconsistency between an assumed species phylogeny and a relation graph (a graph where nodes represent genes and edges represent that the two genes are orthologs). Rather than assuming that inconsistencies are the result of incorrect assessment of orthology (i.e. incorrect edges in the relation graph) they ask if the relation graph could be consistent with a species tree combined with some amount of lateral (horizontal) gene transfer.
The two main questions addressed in this paper are (1) if a network N and a relation graph R are consistent, and (2) if – given a species tree S and a relation graph R – transfer arcs can be added to S in such a way that it becomes consistent with R?
The first question hinges on the concept of a reconciliation between a gene tree and a network (section 2.1) and amounts to asking if a gene tree can be found that can both be reconciled with the network and consistent with the relation graph. The authors show that the problem is NP hard. Furthermore, the related problem of attempting to find a solution using k or fewer transfers is NP-hard, and also W hard implying that it is in a class of problems for which fixed parameter tractable solutions have not been found. The proof of NP hardness is by reduction to the k-multi-coloured clique problem via an intermediate problem dubbed “antichain on trees” (Section 3). The “antichain on trees” construction may be of interest to others working on algorithmic complexity with phylogenetic networks.
In the second question the possible locations of transfers are not specified (or to put it differently any time consistent transfer arc is considered possible) and it is shown that it generally will be possible to add transfer edges to S in such a way that it can be consistent with R. However, the natural extension to this question of asking if it can be done with k or fewer added arcs is also NP hard.
Many of the proofs in the paper are quite technical, but the authors have relegated a lot of this detail to the appendix thus ensuring that the main ideas and results are clear to follow in the main text. I am grateful to both reviewers for their detailed reviews and through checking of the proofs.
Jones M, Lafond M, Scornavacca C (2022) Consistency of orthology and paralogy constraints in the presence of gene transfers. arXiv:1705.01240 [cs], ver. 6 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Mathematical and Computational Biology. https://arxiv.org/abs/1705.01240
|Consistency of orthology and paralogy constraints in the presence of gene transfers
|Mark Jones, Manuel Lafond, Celine Scornavacca
|<p style="text-align: justify;">Orthology and paralogy relations are often inferred by methods based on gene sequence similarity that yield a graph depicting the relationships between gene pairs. Such relation graphs frequently contain errors, as ...
|Computational complexity, Design and analysis of algorithms, Evolutionary Biology, Graph theory
04 Feb 2022
Non-Markovian modelling highlights the importance of age structure on Covid-19 epidemiological dynamicsBastien Reyné, Quentin Richard, Camille Noûs, Christian Selinger, Mircea T. Sofonea, Ramsès Djidjou-Demasse, Samuel Alizon https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.09.30.21264339
Importance of age structure on modeling COVID-19 epidemiological dynamicsRecommended by Chen Liao based on reviews by Facundo Muñoz, Kevin Bonham and 1 anonymous reviewer
COVID-19 spread around the globe in early 2020 and has deeply changed our everyday life . Mathematical models allow us to estimate R0 (basic reproduction number), understand the progression of viral infection, explore the impacts of quarantine on the epidemic, and most importantly, predict the future outbreak . The most classical model is SIR, which describes time evolution of three variables, i.e., number of susceptible people (S), number of people infected (I), and number of people who have recovered (R), based on their transition rates . Despite the simplicity, SIR model produces several general predictions that have important implications for public health .
SIR model includes three populations with distinct labels and is thus compartmentalized. Extra compartments can be added to describe additional states of populations, for example, people exposed to the virus but not yet infectious. However, a model with more compartments, though more realistic, is also more difficult to parameterize and analyze. The study by Reyné et al.  proposed an alternative formalism based on PDE (partial differential equation), which allows modeling different biological scenarios without the need of adding additional compartments. As illustrated, the authors modeled hospital admission dynamics in a vaccinated population only with 8 general compartments.
The main conclusion of this study is that the vaccination level till 2021 summer was insufficient to prevent a new epidemic in France. Additionally, the authors used alternative data sources to estimate the age-structured contact patterns. By sensitivity analysis on a daily basis, they found that the 9 parameters in the age-structured contact matrix are most variable and thus shape Covid19 pandemic dynamics. This result highlights the importance of incorporating age structure of the host population in modeling infectious diseases. However, a relevant potential limitation is that the contact matrix was assumed to be constant throughout the simulations. To account for time dependence of the contact matrix, social and behavioral factors need to be integrated .
 Hu B, Guo H, Zhou P, Shi Z-L (2021) Characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 19, 141–154. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41579-020-00459-7
 Jinxing G, Yongyue W, Yang Z, Feng C (2020) Modeling the transmission dynamics of COVID-19 epidemic: a systematic review. The Journal of Biomedical Research, 34, 422–430. https://doi.org/10.7555/JBR.34.20200119
 Tolles J, Luong T (2020) Modeling Epidemics With Compartmental Models. JAMA, 323, 2515–2516. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2020.8420
 Reyné B, Richard Q, Noûs C, Selinger C, Sofonea MT, Djidjou-Demasse R, Alizon S (2022) Non-Markovian modelling highlights the importance of age structure on Covid-19 epidemiological dynamics. medRxiv, 2021.09.30.21264339, ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Mathematical and Computational Biology. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.09.30.21264339
 Bedson J, Skrip LA, Pedi D, Abramowitz S, Carter S, Jalloh MF, Funk S, Gobat N, Giles-Vernick T, Chowell G, de Almeida JR, Elessawi R, Scarpino SV, Hammond RA, Briand S, Epstein JM, Hébert-Dufresne L, Althouse BM (2021) A review and agenda for integrated disease models including social and behavioural factors. Nature Human Behaviour, 5, 834–846 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01136-2
|Non-Markovian modelling highlights the importance of age structure on Covid-19 epidemiological dynamics
|Bastien Reyné, Quentin Richard, Camille Noûs, Christian Selinger, Mircea T. Sofonea, Ramsès Djidjou-Demasse, Samuel Alizon
|<p style="text-align: justify;">The Covid-19 pandemic outbreak was followed by a huge amount of modelling studies in order to rapidly gain insights to implement the best public health policies. Most of these compartmental models involved ordinary ...
|Dynamical systems, Epidemiology, Systems biology