PALM: A paralleled and integrated framework for phylogenetic inference with automatic likelihood model selectors

Shu Hwa Chen, Sheng Yao Su, Chen Zen Lo, Kuei Hsien Chen, Teng Jay Huang, Bo Han Kuo, Chung Yen Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Selecting an appropriate substitution model and deriving a tree topology for a given sequence set are essential in phylogenetic analysis. However, such time consuming, computationally intensive tasks rely on knowledge of substitution model theories and related expertise to run through all possible combinations of several separate programs. To ensure a thorough and efficient analysis and avert tedious manipulations of various programs, this work presents an intuitive framework, the phylogenetic reconstruction with automatic likelihood model selectors (PALM), with convincing, updated algorithms and a best-fit model selection mechanism for seamless phylogenetic analysis. Methodology: As an integrated framework of ClustalW, PhyML, MODELTEST, ProtTest, and several in-house programs, PALM evaluates the fitness of 56 substitution models for nucleotide sequences and 112 substitution models for protein sequences with scores in various criteria. The input for PALM can be either sequences in FASTA format or a sequence alignment file in PHYLIP format. To accelerate the computing of maximum likelihood and bootstrapping, this work integrates MPICH2/ PhyML, PalmMonitor and Palm job controller across several machines with multiple processors and adopts the task parallelism approach. Moreover, an intuitive and interactive web component, PalmTree, is developed for displaying and operating the output tree with options of tree rooting, branches swapping, viewing the branch length values, and viewing bootstrapping score, as well as removing nodes to restart analysis iteratively. Significance: The workflow of PALM is straightforward and coherent. Via a succinct, user-friendly interface, researchers unfamiliar with phylogenetic analysis can easily use this server to submit sequences, retrieve the output, and re-submit a job based on a previous result if some sequences are to be deleted or added for phylogenetic reconstruction. PALM results in an inference of phylogenetic relationship not only by vanquishing the computation difficulty of ML methods but also providing statistic methods for model selection and bootstrapping. The proposed approach can reduce calculation time, which is particularly relevant when querying a large data set. PALM can be accessed online at

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8116
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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