Plant Science Innovation, Center for


Date of this Version



Evolutionary Bioinformatics Volume 14: 1–11


© The Author(s) 2018

Open access


The study of gene family evolution has benefited from the use of phylogenetic tools, which can greatly inform studies of both relationships within gene families and functional divergence. Here, we propose the use of a network-based approach that in combination with phylogenetic methods can provide additional support for models of gene family evolution. We dissect the contributions of each method to the improved understanding of relationships and functions within the well-characterized family of AGAMOUS floral development genes. The results obtained with the two methods largely agreed with one another. In particular, we show how network approaches can provide improved interpretations of branches with low support in a conventional gene tree. The network approach used here may also better reflect known and suspected patterns of functional divergence relative to phylogenetic methods. Overall, we believe that the combined use of phylogenetic and network tools provide a more robust assessment of gene family evolution.