The rigid hybrid number for two phylogenetic trees

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Recently there has been considerable interest in the problem of finding a phylogenetic network with a minimum number of reticulation vertices which displays a given set of phylogenetic trees, that is, a network with minimum hybrid number. Such networks are useful for representing the evolution of species whose genomes have undergone processes such as lateral gene transfer and recombination that cannot be represented appropriately by a phylogenetic tree. Even so, as was recently pointed out in the literature, insisting that a network displays the set of trees can be an overly restrictive assumption when modeling certain evolutionary phenomena such as incomplete lineage sorting.} In this paper, we thus consider the less restrictive notion of rigidly displaying which we introduce and study here. More specifically, we characterize when two trees can be rigidly displayed by a certain type of phylogenetic network called a temporal tree-child network in terms of fork-picking sequences. These are sequences of special subconfigurations of the two trees related to the well-studied cherry-picking sequences. We also show that, in case it exists, the rigid hybrid number for two phylogenetic trees is given by a minimum weight fork-picking sequence for the trees. Finally, we consider the relationship between the rigid hybrid number and three closely related numbers; the weak, beaded, and temporal hybrid numbers. In particular, we show that these numbers can all be different even for a fixed pair of trees, and also present an infinite family of pairs of trees which demonstrates that the difference between the rigid hybrid number and the temporal-hybrid number for two phylogenetic trees on the same set of $n$ leaves can grow at least linearly with $n$.
Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalJournal of Mathematical Biology
Issue number5
Early online date26 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Beaded tree
  • Cherry-picking sequence
  • Fork-picking sequence
  • Hybrid number
  • Phylogenetic network
  • Rigidly displaying
  • Temporal tree-child network
  • Weakly displaying

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