Encoding and ordering X-cactuses

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Phylogenetic networks are a generalization of evolutionary or phylogenetic trees that are commonly used to represent the evolution of species which cross with one another. A special type of phylogenetic network is an X-cactus, which is essentially a cactus graph in which all vertices with degree less than three are labelled by at least one element from a set X of species. In this paper, we present a way to encode X-cactuses in terms of certain collections of partitions of X that naturally arise from X-cactuses. Using this encoding, we also introduce a partial order on the set of X-cactuses (up to isomorphism), and derive some structural properties of the resulting partially ordered set. This includes an analysis of some properties of its least upper and greatest lower bounds. Our results not only extend some fundamental properties of phylogenetic trees to X-cactuses, but also provide a new approach to solving topical problems in phylogenetic network theory such as deriving consensus networks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102414
JournalAdvances in Applied Mathematics
Early online date19 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Consensus network
  • Partition ordering
  • Phylogenetic network
  • Tree ordering
  • X-cactus

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