Detecting Recombination in 4-Taxa DNA Sequence Alignments with Bayesian Hidden Markov Models and Markov Chain Monte Carlo

27 November 2008

This article presents a statistical method for detecting recombination in DNA sequence alignments, which is based on combining two probabilistic graphical models: (1) a taxon graph (phylogenetic tree) representing the relationship between the taxa, and (2) a site graph (hidden Markov model) representing interactions between different sites in the DNA sequence alignments. We adopt a Bayesian approach and sample the parameters of the model from the posterior distribution with Markov chain Monte Carlo, using a Metropolis-Hastings and Gibbs-within-Gibbs scheme. The proposed method is tested on various synthetic and real-world DNA sequence alignments, and we compare its performance with the established detection methods RECPARS, PLATO, and TOPAL, as well as with two alternative parameter estimation schemes.