Controls for Phylogeny and Robust Analysis in Pareto Task Inference

Miri Adler, Avichai Tendler, Jean Hausser, Yael Korem, Pablo Szekely, Noa Bossel, Yuval Hart, Omer Karin, Avi Mayo, Uri Alon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Understanding the tradeoffs faced by organisms is a major goal of evolutionary biology. One of the main approaches for identifying these tradeoffs is Pareto task inference (ParTI). Two recent papers claim that results obtained in ParTI studies are spurious due to phylogenetic dependence (Mikami T, Iwasaki W. 2021. The flipping t-ratio test: phylogenetically informed assessment of the Pareto theory for phenotypic evolution. Methods Ecol Evol. 12(4):696-706) or hypothetical p-hacking and population-structure concerns (Sun M, Zhang J. 2021. Rampant false detection of adaptive phenotypic optimization by ParTI-based Pareto front inference. Mol Biol Evol. 38(4):1653-1664). Here, we show that these claims are baseless. We present a new method to control for phylogenetic dependence, called SibSwap, and show that published ParTI inference is robust to phylogenetic dependence. We show how researchers avoided p-hacking by testing for the robustness of preprocessing choices. We also provide new methods to control for population structure and detail the experimental tests of ParTI in systems ranging from ammonites to cancer gene expression. The methods presented here may help to improve future ParTI studies.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbermsab297
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


  • ecology
  • phenotypic selection
  • statistics
  • systems biology


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