Hall, B. G. Building Phylogenetic Trees from Molecular Data with MEGA. Molecular biology and evolution 1–7 (2013).doi:10.1093/molbev/mst012
Phylogenetic analysis is sometimes regarded as being an intimidating, complex process that requires expertise and years of experience. In fact, it is a fairly straightforward process that can be learned quickly and applied effectively. This Protocol describes the several steps required to produce a phylogenetic tree from molecular data for novices. In the example illustrated here, the program MEGA is used to implement all those steps, thereby eliminating the need to learn several programs, and to deal with multiple file formats from one step to another (Tamura K, Peterson D, Peterson N, Stecher G, Nei M, Kumar S. 2011. MEGA5: molecular evolutionary genetics analysis using maximum likelihood, evolutionary distance, and maximum parsimony methods. Mol Biol Evol. 28:2731-2739). The first step, identification of a set of homologous sequences and downloading those sequences, is implemented by MEGA’s own browser built on top of the Google Chrome toolkit. For the second step, alignment of those sequences, MEGA offers two different algorithms: ClustalW and MUSCLE. For the third step, construction of a phylogenetic tree from the aligned sequences, MEGA offers many different methods. Here we illustrate the maximum likelihood method, beginning with MEGA’s Models feature, which permits selecting the most suitable substitution model. Finally, MEGA provides a powerful and flexible interface for the final step, actually drawing the tree for publication. Here a step-by-step protocol is presented in sufficient detail to allow a novice to start with a sequence of interest and to build a publication-quality tree illustrating the evolution of an appropriate set of homologs of that sequence. MEGA is available for use on PCs and Macs from www.megasoftware.net.