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Identifying homologs is an important process in the analysis of genetic patterns underlying traits and evolutionary relationships among species. Analysis of gene families is often used to form and support hypotheses on genetic patterns such as gene presence, absence, or functional divergence which underlie traits examined in functional studies. These analyses often require precise identification of all members in a targeted gene family. Manual pipelines where homology search and orthology assignment tools are used separately are the most common approach for identifying small gene families where accurate identification of all members is important. The ability to curate sequences between steps in manual pipelines allows for simple and precise identification of all possible gene family members. However, the validity of such manual pipeline analyses is often decreased by inappropriate approaches to homology searches including too relaxed or stringent statistical thresholds, inappropriate query sequences, homology classification based on sequence similarity alone, and low-quality proteome or genome sequences. In this article, we propose several approaches to mitigate these issues and allow for precise identification of gene family members and support for hypotheses linking genetic patterns to functional traits.
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