Phylotastic! Making tree-of-life knowledge accessible, reusable and convenient
Stoltzfus A, Lapp H, Matasci N, Deus H, Sidlauskas B, Zmasek CM, Vaidya G, Pontelli E, Cranston K, Vos R, Webb CO, Harmon LJ, Pirrung M, O'Meara B, Pennell MW, Mirarab S, Rosenberg MS, Balhoff JP, Bik HM, Heath TA, Midford PE, Brown JW, McTavish EJ, Sukumaran J, Westneat M, Alfaro ME, Steele A, Jordan G
Scientists rarely reuse expert knowledge of phylogeny, in spite of years of effort to assemble a great "Tree of Life" (ToL). A notable exception involves the use of Phylomatic, which provides tools to generate custom phylogenies from a large, pre-computed, expert phylogeny of plant taxa. This suggests great potential for a more generalized system that, starting with a query consisting of a list of any known species, would rectify non-standard names, identify expert phylogenies containing the implicated taxa, prune away unneeded parts, and supply branch lengths and annotations, resulting in a custom phylogeny suited to the user's needs. Such a system could become a sustainable community resource if implemented as a distributed system of loosely coupled parts that interact through clearly defined interfaces.
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