Maximum Likelihood in Molecular Phylogenetics

  • Xuhua Xia


Maximum likelihood (ML) methods remain the gold standard in molecular phylogenetics. The calculation of likelihood, given a topology and a substitution model, is illustrated with both a brute-force approach and the pruning algorithm which is the most fundamental algorithm in likelihood calculation. The pruning algorithm is also a dynamic programming algorithm. The likelihood calculation is separately presented without and with a molecular clock. While ML is the most robust of all methods in molecular phylogenetics, it may suffer from bias when handling missing data coupled with rate heterogeneity over sites.


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© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xuhua Xia
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Ottawa CAREG and Biology DepartmentOttawaCanada

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