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GenBank Huge amounts of data, easily accessible Rate of growth of phylogenetic knowledge Number of papers with “molecular” and “phylogeny” in Web of Science Number of studies in TreeBASE Why have a phylogeny database? Archive data and trees (repeat old analyses with new tools)

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rate of growth of phylogenetic knowledge
Rate of growth of phylogenetic knowledge

Number of papers with “molecular” and “phylogeny” in Web of Science

Number of studies in TreeBASE

why have a phylogeny database
Why have a phylogeny database?
  • Archive data and trees (repeat old analyses with new tools)
  • Synthesize new data sets and trees (supermatrices and supertrees)
  • Big scale questions (tree shape, bias in tree building methods, stability of trees over time)
  • Hypothesis testing : find all phylogenies for taxa with members in Gondwana -- do they show similar area cladograms, amounts of sequence divergence, etc.
  • Who knows…(we won’t know until we try)
obstacles in the way
Obstacles in the way
  • Ontologies (consistent names for organisms, genes, and other kinds of data)
  • How to store and query trees (what kind of queries do we want?)
  • Summarising information in trees (supertrees) and matrices (supermatrices)
  • Visualising very big trees
peruvian diving petrel or what s in a name
Peruvian Diving-petrel(or, what’s in a name?)
  • ITIS Pelecanoides garnotii
  • NCBI Pelecanoides garnoti
  • TreeBASE Pelecanoides garnoti AF076073
treebase names project http darwin zoology gla ac uk rpage treebase
TreeBASE Names Project
  • Aim is to map every name in TreeBASE onto a valid taxonomic name (i.e., a name in a database, or in the literature)
  • Use exact-, substring-, and approximate string matching (+ BLAST)
  • So far 26819 out of 35084 names mapped
Hemideina maori (weta)

18 TreeBASE names = 1 real name




3 TreeBASE names = 1 real name

Physeter catodon (Sperm Whale)

The case of the Harp seal

TreeBASE and GenBank have harp seals under two different names, only ITIS knows that they are the same thing

There are knownknowns, things we know that we know
  • There are knownunknowns, things we now know we don’t know
  • But there are also unknownunknowns, things we do not know we don't know
searching on aves in treebase finds 4 studies with birds
Searching on “Aves” in TreeBASEfinds 4 studies with birds…
  • Study #1: Gauthier, J., A.G. Kluge, and T. Rowe. 1988. Amniote phylogeny and the importance of fossils.
  • Study #2: Harshman, J., C. J. Huddleston, J. P. Bollback, T. J. Parsons, and M. J. Braun. 2003 inpress. True and False Gavials: A Nuclear Gene Phylogeny of Crocodylia.
  • Hedges, S. B., K. D. Moberg, and L. R. Maxson.1990. Tetrapod phylogeny inferred from 18s and 28s ribosomal RNA sequences and a review of the evidence for amniote relationships.
  • van Dijk, M. A. M., E. Paradis, F. Catzeflis, and W. de Jong. 1999. The virtues of gaps: Xenarthran (Edentate) monophyly supported by a unique deletion in alphaA-crystallin.
There are 24 bird studies in TreeBASE,

but “tree surfing” won’t find them



Fig. 1. The `data availability matrix' for green plant protein sequences from GenBank (release 132). A set of 130304 sequences for 14667 species sequences were clustered into 61117 groups of homologous proteins by a combination of BLAST and single-linkage clustering (using the program Blastclust from the NCBI Blast toolkit: ). A column represents a protein or protein family; a row represents one of the species in the dataset; and a dot indicates the existence of a sequence for that species and protein. Species are sorted vertically by their number of sequences; the most-represented species ( Arabidopsis thaliana ) is at the top. Proteins are sorted horizontally by the number of taxa for which they have been sequenced; the most heavily sequenced gene ( rbcL ) is on the right. This figure shows the most heavily sampled corner of the data availability matrix; the remainder of the matrix is even more sparse.

comparing classifications for psocoptera
Comparing classificationsfor Psocoptera

Lienhard & Smithers (2002)

[courtesy of Kevin Johnson]

4363 species

NCBI (GenBank)

9 species

from journal to database
From journal to database…

Problem: not enough data and trees in journals make it into databases

elsevier s journal molecular phylogenetics and evolution is a criminal waste of our efforts
Elsevier’s journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution is a criminal waste of our efforts

Text, data, trees locked up in paper and PDF

the database is the journal
“Oh, the vision thing” George Bush (snr), 1987… the database is the journal
  • Data + trees go into database
  • Text (annotation) added
  • Automatically generate a report summarising the results
  • The report is the publication (can have a DOI)
  • Open Access data and text