Maximum likelihood estimates of pairwise rearrangement distances


Accurate estimation of evolutionary distances between taxa is important for many phylogenetic reconstruction methods. In the case of bacteria, distances can be estimated using a range of different evolutionary models, from single nucleotide polymorphisms to large-scale genome rearrangements. In the case of sequence evolution models (such as the Jukes-Cantor model and associated metric) have been used to correct pairwise distances. Similar correction methods for genome rearrangement processes are required to improve inference. Current attempts at correction fall into 3 categories: Empirical computational studies, Bayesian/MCMC approaches, and combinatorial approaches. Here we introduce a maximum likelihood estimator for the inversion distance between a pair of genomes, using the group-theoretic approach to modelling inversions introduced recently. This MLE functions as a corrected distance: in particular, we show that because of the way sequences of inversions interact with each other, it is quite possible for minimal distance and MLE distance to differently order the distances of two genomes from a third. This has obvious implications for the use of minimal distance in phylogeny reconstruction. The work also tackles the above problem allowing free rotation of the genome. Generally a frame of reference is locked, and all computation made accordingly. This work incorporates the action of the dihedral group so that distance estimates are free from any a priori frame of reference.

Journal for Theoretical Biology 10.1016/j.jtbi.2017.04.015