We describe statistical inference in continuous time Markov processes of DNA sequences related by a phylogenetic tree. The maximum likelihood estimator can be found by the expectation maximization (EM) algorithm and an expression for the information matrix is also derived. We provide explicit analytical solutions for the EM algorithm and information matrix.
Importance sampling or Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling is required for state-of-the-art statistical analysis of population genetics data. The applicability of these sampling-based inference techniques depends crucially on the proposal distribution. In this paper, we discuss importance sampling for the infinite sites model. The infinite sites assumption is attractive because it constraints the number of possible genealogies, thereby allowing for the analysis of larger data sets. We recall the Griffiths-Tavaré and Stephens-Donnelly proposals and emphasize the relation between the latter proposal and exact sampling from the infinite alleles model. We also introduce a new proposal that takes knowledge of the ancestral state into account. The new proposal is derived from a new result on exact sampling from a single site. The methods are illustrated on simulated data sets and the data considered in Griffiths and Tavaré (1994).
Changes in population size is a useful quantity for understanding the evolutionary history of a species. Genetic variation within a species can be summarized by the site frequency spectrum (SFS). For a sample of size n, the SFS is a vector of length n − 1 where entry i is the number of sites where the mutant base appears i times and the ancestral base appears n − i times. We present a new method, CubSFS, for estimating the changes in population size of a panmictic population from an observed SFS. First, we provide a straightforward proof for the expression of the expected site frequency spectrum depending only on the population size. Our derivation is based on an eigenvalue decomposition of the instantaneous coalescent rate matrix. Second, we solve the inverse problem of determining the changes in population size from an observed SFS. Our solution is based on a cubic spline for the population size. The cubic spline is determined by minimizing the weighted average of two terms, namely (i) the goodness of fit to the observed SFS, and (ii) a penalty term based on the smoothness of the changes. The weight is determined by cross-validation. The new method is validated on simulated demographic histories and applied on unfolded and folded SFS from 26 different human populations from the 1000 Genomes Project.