Species tree inference from gene family trees is a significant problem in computational biology. However, gene tree heterogeneity, which can be caused by several factors including gene duplication and loss, makes the estimation of species trees very challenging. While there have been several species tree estimation methods introduced in recent years to specifically address gene tree heterogeneity due to gene duplication and loss (such as DupTree, FastMulRFS, ASTRAL-Pro, and SpeciesRax), many incur high cost in terms of both running time and memory. We introduce a new approach, DISCO, that decomposes the multi-copy gene family trees into many single copy trees, which allows for methods previously designed for species tree inference in a single copy gene tree context to be used. We prove that using DISCO with ASTRAL (i.e., ASTRAL-DISCO) is statistically consistent under the GDL model, provided that ASTRAL-Pro correctly roots and tags each gene family tree. We evaluate DISCO paired with different methods for estimating species trees from single copy genes (e.g., ASTRAL, ASTRID, and IQ-TREE) under a wide range of model conditions, and establish that high accuracy can be obtained even when ASTRAL-Pro is not able to correctly roots and tags the gene family trees. We also compare results using MI, an alternative decomposition strategy from Yang Y. and Smith S.A. (2014), and find that DISCO provides better accuracy, most likely as a result of covering more of the gene family tree leafset in the output decomposition. [Concatenation analysis; gene duplication and loss; species tree inference; summary method.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)610-629
Number of pages20
JournalSystematic biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'DISCO: Species Tree Inference using Multicopy Gene Family Tree Decomposition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this