MBEToolbox: a MATLAB toolbox for sequence data analysis in molecular biology and evolution

Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
BMC Bioinformatics (Impact Factor: 2.58). 02/2005; 6(1):64. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2105-6-64
Source: PubMed


MATLAB is a high-performance language for technical computing, integrating computation, visualization, and programming in an easy-to-use environment. It has been widely used in many areas, such as mathematics and computation, algorithm development, data acquisition, modeling, simulation, and scientific and engineering graphics. However, few functions are freely available in MATLAB to perform the sequence data analyses specifically required for molecular biology and evolution.
We have developed a MATLAB toolbox, called MBEToolbox, aimed at filling this gap by offering efficient implementations of the most needed functions in molecular biology and evolution. It can be used to manipulate aligned sequences, calculate evolutionary distances, estimate synonymous and nonsynonymous substitution rates, and infer phylogenetic trees. Moreover, it provides an extensible, functional framework for users with more specialized requirements to explore and analyze aligned nucleotide or protein sequences from an evolutionary perspective. The full functions in the toolbox are accessible through the command-line for seasoned MATLAB users. A graphical user interface, that may be especially useful for non-specialist end users, is also provided.
MBEToolbox is a useful tool that can aid in the exploration, interpretation and visualization of data in molecular biology and evolution. The software is publicly available at and

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Available from: Xuhua Xia
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    • "This is particularly useful to reinforce basic concepts such as dominance, recessivity, linkage and complementation. In systems biology and molecular biology, MATLAB can be used to establish correlations among large quantities of data to determine interactions between genes or metabolic networks, and to analyze gene sequences [3]. Similarly, biological data such as mutant analysis data can be simulated in R. All these tools will be introduced in the course to give a flavor of tools, which will be studied in depth in more advanced courses within the Bioinformatics minor at the UPRM. "
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    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012
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    • "To gauge the possible effect of compositional heterogeneity on phylogeny inference, we compared neighbor-joining trees using two different distances: ML distances based on the GTR model, which can be influenced by compositional heterogeneity; and Euclidean distances calculated on the proportions of the four nucleotide states treated as independent characters, which will reflect only compositional heterogeneity. Compositional distances were generated using a Perl script that was written with modification of the MBE Toolbox [65] and calculated with PAUP* [45]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Researchers conducting molecular phylogenetic studies are frequently faced with the decision of what to do when weak branch support is obtained for key nodes of importance. As one solution, the researcher may choose to sequence additional orthologous genes of appropriate evolutionary rate for the taxa in the study. However, generating large, complete data matrices can become increasingly difficult as the number of characters increases. A few empirical studies have shown that augmenting genes even for a subset of taxa can improve branch support. However, because each study differs in the number of characters and taxa, there is still a need for additional studies that examine whether incomplete sampling designs are likely to aid at increasing deep node resolution. We target Gracillariidae, a Cretaceous-age (~100 Ma) group of leaf-mining moths to test whether the strategy of adding genes for a subset of taxa can improve branch support for deep nodes. We initially sequenced ten genes (8,418 bp) for 57 taxa that represent the major lineages of Gracillariidae plus outgroups. After finding that many deep divergences remained weakly supported, we sequenced eleven additional genes (6,375 bp) for a 27-taxon subset. We then compared results from different data sets to assess whether one sampling design can be favored over another. The concatenated data set comprising all genes and all taxa and three other data sets of different taxon and gene sub-sampling design were analyzed with maximum likelihood. Each data set was subject to five different models and partitioning schemes of non-synonymous and synonymous changes. Statistical significance of non-monophyly was examined with the Approximately Unbiased (AU) test. Partial augmentation of genes led to high support for deep divergences, especially when non-synonymous changes were analyzed alone. Increasing the number of taxa without an increase in number of characters led to lower bootstrap support; increasing the number of characters without increasing the number of taxa generally increased bootstrap support. More than three-quarters of nodes were supported with bootstrap values greater than 80% when all taxa and genes were combined. Gracillariidae, Lithocolletinae + Leucanthiza, and Acrocercops and Parectopa groups were strongly supported in nearly every analysis. Gracillaria group was well supported in some analyses, but less so in others. We find strong evidence for the exclusion of Douglasiidae from Gracillarioidea sensu Davis and Robinson (1998). Our results strongly support the monophyly of a G.B.R.Y. clade, a group comprised of Gracillariidae + Bucculatricidae + Roeslerstammiidae + Yponomeutidae, when analyzed with non-synonymous changes only, but this group was frequently split when synonymous and non-synonymous substitutions were analyzed together. 1) Partially or fully augmenting a data set with more characters increased bootstrap support for particular deep nodes, and this increase was dramatic when non-synonymous changes were analyzed alone. Thus, the addition of sites that have low levels of saturation and compositional heterogeneity can greatly improve results. 2) Gracillarioidea, as defined by Davis and Robinson (1998), clearly do not include Douglasiidae, and changes to current classification will be required. 3) Gracillariidae were monophyletic in all analyses conducted, and nearly all species can be placed into one of six strongly supported clades though relationships among these remain unclear. 4) The difficulty in determining the phylogenetic placement of Bucculatricidae is probably attributable to compositional heterogeneity at the third codon position. From our tests for compositional heterogeneity and strong bootstrap values obtained when synonymous changes are excluded, we tentatively conclude that Bucculatricidae is closely related to Gracillariidae + Roeslerstammiidae + Yponomeutidae.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · BMC Evolutionary Biology
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    • "These calculations were performed separately on noLRall2 + nt2, nt123, and nt3. The calculations were carried out with PAUP* [46], except that the Euclidean distances were generated using MBE Toolbox V2.2 [50], after modification of the source code to correct for varying sequence lengths. "
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    ABSTRACT: In the mega-diverse insect order Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths; 165,000 described species), deeper relationships are little understood within the clade Ditrysia, to which 98% of the species belong. To begin addressing this problem, we tested the ability of five protein-coding nuclear genes (6.7 kb total), and character subsets therein, to resolve relationships among 123 species representing 27 (of 33) superfamilies and 55 (of 100) families of Ditrysia under maximum likelihood analysis. Our trees show broad concordance with previous morphological hypotheses of ditrysian phylogeny, although most relationships among superfamilies are weakly supported. There are also notable surprises, such as a consistently closer relationship of Pyraloidea than of butterflies to most Macrolepidoptera. Monophyly is significantly rejected by one or more character sets for the putative clades Macrolepidoptera as currently defined (P < 0.05) and Macrolepidoptera excluding Noctuoidea and Bombycoidea sensu lato (P < or = 0.005), and nearly so for the superfamily Drepanoidea as currently defined (P < 0.08). Superfamilies are typically recovered or nearly so, but usually without strong support. Relationships within superfamilies and families, however, are often robustly resolved. We provide some of the first strong molecular evidence on deeper splits within Pyraloidea, Tortricoidea, Geometroidea, Noctuoidea and others.Separate analyses of mostly synonymous versus non-synonymous character sets revealed notable differences (though not strong conflict), including a marked influence of compositional heterogeneity on apparent signal in the third codon position (nt3). As available model partitioning methods cannot correct for this variation, we assessed overall phylogeny resolution through separate examination of trees from each character set. Exploration of "tree space" with GARLI, using grid computing, showed that hundreds of searches are typically needed to find the best-feasible phylogeny estimate for these data. Our results (a) corroborate the broad outlines of the current working phylogenetic hypothesis for Ditrysia, (b) demonstrate that some prominent features of that hypothesis, including the position of the butterflies, need revision, and (c) resolve the majority of family and subfamily relationships within superfamilies as thus far sampled. Much further gene and taxon sampling will be needed, however, to strongly resolve individual deeper nodes.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · BMC Evolutionary Biology
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