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Bayesian inference of clonal expansions in a dated phylogeny

By David Helekal, Alice Ledda, Erik Volz, David Wyllie, Xavier Didelot

Posted 01 Jul 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.01.450370

Microbial population genetics models often assume that all lineages are constrained by the same population size dynamics over time. However, many neutral and selective events can invalidate this assumption, and can contribute to the clonal expansion of a specific lineage relative to the rest of the population. Such differential phylodynamic properties between lineages result in asymmetries and imbalances in phylogenetic trees that are sometimes described informally but difficult to analyse formally. To this end, we developed a model of how clonal expansions occur and affect the branching patterns of a phylogeny. We show how the parameters of this model can be inferred from a given dated phylogeny using Bayesian statistics, which allows us to assess the probability that one or more clonal expansion events occurred. For each putative clonal expansion event we estimate their date of emergence and subsequent phylodynamic trajectories, including their long-term evolutionary potential which is important to determine how much effort should be placed on specific control measures. We demonstrate the usefulness of our methodology on simulated and real datasets.

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