Benjamin P. Blackburne

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The phylogenetic inference of ancestral protein sequences is a powerful technique for the study of molecular evolution, but any conclusions drawn from such studies are only as good as the accuracy of the reconstruction method. Every inference method leads to errors in the ancestral protein sequence, resulting in potentially misleading estimates of the(More)
MOTIVATION Multiple sequence alignment (MSA) is a core method in bioinformatics. The accuracy of such alignments may influence the success of downstream analyses such as phylogenetic inference, protein structure prediction, and functional prediction. The importance of MSA has lead to the proliferation of MSA methods, with different objective functions and(More)
The rapid evolution of influenza viruses presents difficulties in maintaining the optimal efficiency of vaccines. Amino acid substitutions result in antigenic drift, a process whereby antisera raised in response to one virus have reduced effectiveness against future viruses. Interestingly, while amino acid substitutions occur at a relatively constant rate,(More)
Multiple sequence alignment (MSA) is the heart of comparative sequence analysis. Recent studies demonstrate that MSA algorithms can produce different outcomes when analyzing genomes, including phylogenetic tree inference and the detection of adaptive evolution. These studies also suggest that the difference between MSA algorithms is of a similar order to(More)
There is widespread evidence of lineage-specific rate variation, known as heterotachy, during protein evolution. Changes in the structural and functional constraints acting on a protein can lead to heterotachy, and it is plausible that such changes, known as covarion shifts, may affect many amino acids at once. Several previous attempts to model heterotachy(More)
Evolutionary studies usually use a two-step process to investigate sequence data. Step one estimates a multiple sequence alignment (MSA) and step two applies phylogenetic methods to ask evolutionary questions of that MSA. Modern phylogenetic methods infer evolutionary parameters using maximum likelihood or Bayesian inference, mediated by a probabilistic(More)
Molecular phylogenetics is a powerful tool for inferring both the process and pattern of evolution from genomic sequence data. Statistical approaches, such as maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference, are now established as the preferred methods of inference. The choice of models that a researcher uses for inference is of critical importance, and there are(More)
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