Mapping phylogenetic trees to reveal distinct patterns of evolution
Kendall M., Colijn C.
Evolutionary relationships are described by phylogenetic trees, but a central barrier in many fields is the difficulty of interpreting data containing conflicting phylogenetic signals. Obtaining credible trees that capture the relationships present in complex data is one of the fundamental challenges in evolution today. We present a way to map trees which extracts distinct alternative evolutionary relationships embedded in data and resolves phylogenetic uncertainty. Our method reveals a remarkably distinct phylogenetic signature in the VP30 gene of Ebolavirus, indicating possible recombination with significant implications for vaccine development. Moving to higher organisms, we use our approach to detect alternative histories of the evolution of anole lizards. Our approach has the capacity to resolve key areas of uncertainty in the study of evolution, and to broaden the credibility and appeal of phylogenetic methods.