‘Lassoing’ a phylogenetic tree I: basic properties, shellings, and covers

Andreas W. M. Dress, Katharina T. Huber, Mike Steel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


A classical result, fundamental to evolutionary biology, states that an edge-weighted tree T with leaf set X, positive edge weights, and no vertices of degree 2 can be uniquely reconstructed from the leaf-to-leaf distances between any two elements of X. In biology, X corresponds to a set of taxa (e.g. extant species), the tree T describes their phylogenetic relationships, the edges correspond to earlier species evolving for a time until splitting in two or more species by some speciation/bifurcation event, and their length corresponds to the genetic change accumulating over that time in such a species. In this paper, we investigate which subsets of ?X2 ? suffice to determine (‘lasso’) the tree T from the leaf-to-leaf distances induced by that tree. The question is particularly topical since reliable estimates of genetic distance—even (if not in particular) by modern mass-sequencing methods—are, in general, available only for certain combinations of taxa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-105
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Mathematical Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Cite this