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Comparison of Phylogenetic Trees of Multiple Protein Sequence Alignment Methods

Authors: Khaddouja Boujenfa, Nadia Essoussi, Mohamed Limam


Multiple sequence alignment is a fundamental part in many bioinformatics applications such as phylogenetic analysis. Many alignment methods have been proposed. Each method gives a different result for the same data set, and consequently generates a different phylogenetic tree. Hence, the chosen alignment method affects the resulting tree. However in the literature, there is no evaluation of multiple alignment methods based on the comparison of their phylogenetic trees. This work evaluates the following eight aligners: ClustalX, T-Coffee, SAGA, MUSCLE, MAFFT, DIALIGN, ProbCons and Align-m, based on their phylogenetic trees (test trees) produced on a given data set. The Neighbor-Joining method is used to estimate trees. Three criteria, namely, the dNNI, the dRF and the Id_Tree are established to test the ability of different alignment methods to produce closer test tree compared to the reference one (true tree). Results show that the method which produces the most accurate alignment gives the nearest test tree to the reference tree. MUSCLE outperforms all aligners with respect to the three criteria and for all datasets, performing particularly better when sequence identities are within 10-20%. It is followed by T-Coffee at lower sequence identity (<10%), Align-m at 20-30% identity, and ClustalX and ProbCons at 30-50% identity. Also, it is noticed that when sequence identities are higher (>30%), trees scores of all methods become similar.

Keywords: phylogenetic trees, Multiple alignment methods, Neighbor-Joining method, Robinson-Foulds distance

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