Analysis of Functional Constraint and Recombination in Gene Sequences of the Cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus
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Lineages of the cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus marinus have diverged into two genetically distinct ‘ecotypes,’ high-light adapted (HL) and low-light adapted (LL), which thrive under different environmental conditions. This type of niche differentiation in prokaryotes is often accompanied by genetic and genomic divergence. Differential selection pressure associated with ecotype divergence can be analyzed using models of codon evolution. However, some characteristics of the Prochlorococcus genome violate underlying assumptions of these models. For example, high levels of recombination between bacterial strains are known to cause false positives for codon models. Therefore, it is important that statistical methods for detecting recombination be reliable. In Chapter 2, I evaluate a set of recombination detection methods under four different scenarios related to functional divergence: 1) varying tree shape, 2) positive selection, 3) non-stationary evolution, and 4) varying levels of recombination and divergence.