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From The CriticsReviewer: Michael Cummings, PhD (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Description: Genome projects are generating nucleotide sequence data for organisms across the phylogenetic scale. This book is a presentation of the analysis of this information and its use in reconstructing evolutionary relationships among organisms.
Purpose: The purpose is to explain the evolution of genes and genomes by analysis of gene sequence data and the construction of phylogenetic trees.
Audience: This book is written by two experts in the field who have provided a contemporary and needed introduction to molecular evolution that will serve as a guidebook to those seeking to make sense of the avalanche of nucleotide sequence data now being generated. It is intended for use by advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate students in a course in molecular evolution. Because of the accessible writing style and organization, it will also be useful to professionals who wish to understand molecular evolution as it applies to their own specialty or for personal reading.
Features: After an introductory conspectus in Chapter 1, the authors begin by laying out a clear introduction to the concept of phylogenetic trees, how they are constructed and used in reconstructing the history of traits, in organismal phylogeny, and in the construction of networks. In subsequent chapters basic genetic themes such as gene structure, expression, mutation, recombination, and population genetics with phylogenetic analysis are interwoven. With these topics clearly established as a foundation, in the last two chapters the authors tackle the more difficult problems of using phylogenetic analysis in dissecting neutralist and selectionist models of evolution and the use of phylogenetic trees in specific applications, including gene history, host-parasite co-speciation, and molecular epidemiology.
Assessment: The value of this book lies in the authors' two-fold approach. They begin with a clear exposition of what phylogenetic trees are and how they are constructed. After this, basic genetic concepts are reviewed, and integrated into the analysis of genes and genomes using phylogenetic trees. The examples chosen are up-to-date and will hold the interest of the reader. There are few comparable texts currently available, and this one may serve to generate new courses in molecular evolution at many institutions.