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Data from: Who let the CAT out of the bag? accurately dealing with substitutional heterogeneity in phylogenomic analyses

Cite this dataset

Whelan, Nathan V.; Halanych, Kenneth M. (2016). Data from: Who let the CAT out of the bag? accurately dealing with substitutional heterogeneity in phylogenomic analyses [Dataset]. Dryad.


As phylogenetic datasets have increased in size, site-heterogeneous substitution models such as CAT-F81 and CAT-GTR have been advocated in favor of other models because they purportedly suppress long-branch attraction (LBA). These models are two of the most commonly used models in phylogenomics, and they have been applied to a variety of taxa ranging from Drosophila to land plants. However, many arguments in favor of CAT models have been based on tenuous assumptions about the true phylogeny rather than rigorous testing with known trees via simulation. Moreover, CAT models have not been compared to other approaches for handling substitutional heterogeneity such as data partitioning with site-homogeneous substitution models. We simulated amino acid sequence datasets with substitutional heterogeneity on a variety of tree shapes including those susceptible to LBA. Data were analyzed with both CAT models and partitioning to explore model performance; in total over 670,000 CPU hours were used, of which over 97% was spent running analyses with CAT models. In many cases, all models recovered branching patterns that were identical to the known tree. However, CAT-F81 consistently performed worse than other models in inferring the correct branching patterns, and both CAT models often overestimated substitutional heterogeneity. Additionally, reanalysis of two empirical metazoan datasets supports the notion that CAT-F81 tends to recover less accurate trees than data partitioning and CAT-GTR. Given these results, we conclude that partitioning and CAT-GTR perform similarly in recovering accurate branching patterns. However, computation time can be orders of magnitude less for data partitioning, with commonly used implementations of CAT-GTR often failing to reach completion in a reasonable time frame (i.e., for Bayesian analyses to converge). Practices such as removing constant sites and parsimony uninformative characters, or using CAT-F81 when CAT-GTR is deemed too computationally expensive, cannot be logically justified. Given clear problems with CAT-F81, phylogenies previously inferred with this model should be reassessed.

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