Stochastic Models for the Inference of Life Evolution


SMILE is an interdisciplinary research group gathering probabilists, statisticians, bio-informaticians and biologists.
SMILE is affiliated to the Stochastics and Biology group of LPSM (Lab of Probability, Statistics and Modeling) at Sorbonne Université (ex Université Pierre et Marie Curie Paris 06).
SMILE is hosted within the CIRB (Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology) at Collège de France.
SMILE is supported by Collège de France and CNRS.
Visit also our homepage at CIRB.

Recent contributions of the SMILE group related to SARS-Cov2 and COVID-19.


SMILE is hosted at Collège de France in the Latin Quarter of Paris. To reach us, go to 11 place Marcelin Berthelot (stations Luxembourg or Saint-Michel on RER B).
Our working spaces are rooms 107, 121 and 122 on first floor of building B1 (ask us for the code). Building B1 is facing you upon exiting the traversing hall behind Champollion's statue.


You can reach us by email (amaury.lambert - at - or (smile - at -

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Testing for Independence between Evolutionary Processes

Evolutionary events co-occurring along phylogenetic trees usually point to complex adaptive phenomena, sometimes implicating epistasis. While a number of methods have been developed to account for co-occurrence of events on the same internal or external branch of an evolutionary tree, there is a need to account for the larger diversity of possible relative positions of events in a tree. Here we propose a method to quantify to what extent two or more evolutionary events are associated on a phylogenetic tree. The method is applicable to any discrete character, like substitutions within a coding sequence or gains/losses of a biological function. Our method uses a general approach to statistically test for significant associations between events along the tree, which encompasses both events inseparable on the same branch, and events genealogically ordered on different branches. It assumes that the phylogeny and themapping of branches is known without errors. We address this problem from the statistical viewpoint by a linear algebra representation of the localization of the evolutionary events on the tree.We compute the full probability distribution of the number of paired events occurring in the same branch or in different branches of the tree, under a null model of independence where each type of event occurs at a constant rate uniformly inthephylogenetic tree. The strengths and weaknesses of themethodare assessed via simulations; we then apply the method to explore the loss of cell motility in intracellular pathogens.



Exchangeable coalescents, ultrametric spaces, nested interval-partitions: A unifying approach

Kingman's representation theorem (Kingman 1978) states that any exchangeable partition of \$$\mathbb{N}\$$ can be represented as a paintbox based on a random mass-partition. Similarly, any exchangeable composition (i.e.\ ordered partition of \$$\mathbb{N}\$$) can be represented as a paintbox based on an interval-partition (Gnedin 1997. Our first main result is that any exchangeable coalescent process (not necessarily Markovian) can be represented as a paintbox based on a random non-decreasing process valued in interval-partitions, called nested interval-partition, generalizing the notion of comb metric space introduced by Lambert & Uribe Bravo (2017) to represent compact ultrametric spaces. As a special case, we show that any \$$\Lambda\$$-coalescent can be obtained from a paintbox based on a unique random nested interval partition called \$$\Lambda\$$-comb, which is Markovian with explicit semi-group. This nested interval-partition directly relates to the flow of bridges of Bertoin & Le~Gall (2003). We also display a particularly simple description of the so-called evolving coalescent by a comb-valued Markov process. Next, we prove that any measured ultrametric space \$$U\$$, under mild measure-theoretic assumptions on \$$U\$$, is the leaf set of a tree composed of a separable subtree called the backbone, on which are grafted additional subtrees, which act as star-trees from the standpoint of sampling. Displaying this so-called weak isometry requires us to extend the Gromov-weak topology, that was initially designed for separable metric spaces, to non-separable ultrametric spaces. It allows us to show that for any such ultrametric space \$$U\$$, there is a nested interval-partition which is 1) indistinguishable from \$$U\$$ in the Gromov-weak topology; 2) weakly isometric to \$$U\$$ if \$$U\$$ has complete backbone; 3) isometric to \$$U\$$ if \$$U\$$ is complete and separable.

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