Alignment-Based Phylogeny solved by 148

July 2, 2012, midnight by Rosalind Team

Topics: Phylogeny

From Characters Toward Alignments

In “Creating a Character Table from Genetic Strings”, we used strings to create a collection of characters from which we could create a phylogeny. However, the strings all had to share the same length, which was a problem. In practice, we would like to create a phylogeny from genetic strings having differing lengths; specifically, our aim is to construct a phylogeny from a multiple alignment.

Unfortunately, constructing a phylogeny from the ground up based only on an alignment can be difficult. In order to produce an efficient solution, we will need to assume that the structure of the phylogeny has already been provided (perhaps from character-based methods), and our aim instead is to reconstruct the genetic strings corresponding to the internal nodes (i.e., ancestors) in the tree.

The ancestor strings should have the property that the total number of point mutations separating adjacent nodes in the tree is minimized (in keeping with parsimony).


Say that we have $n$ taxa represented by strings $s_1, s_2, \ldots, s_n$ with a multiple alignment inducing corresponding augmented strings $\overline{s}_1, \overline{s}_2, \ldots, \overline{s}_n$.

Recall that the number of single-symbol substitutions required to transform one string into another is the Hamming distance between the strings (see “Counting Point Mutations”). Say that we have a rooted binary tree $T$ containing $\overline{s}_1, \overline{s}_2, \ldots, \overline{s}_n$ at its leaves and additional strings $\overline{s}_{n+1}, \overline{s}_{n+2}, \ldots, \overline{s}_{2n-1}$ at its internal nodes, including the root (the number of internal nodes is $n-1$ by extension of “Counting Phylogenetic Ancestors”). Define $d_{\textrm{H}}(T)$ as the sum of $d_{\textrm{H}}(\overline{s}_i, \overline{s}_j)$ over all edges $\{\overline{s}_i, \overline{s}_j\}$ in $T$:

$d_{\textrm{H}}(T) = \sum\limits_{\{\overline{s}_i, \overline{s}_j\} \in E(T)}{d_{\textrm{H}}(\overline{s}_i, \overline{s}_j)}$

Thus, our aim is to minimize $d_{\textrm{H}}(T)$.

Given: A rooted binary tree $T$ on $n$ ($n \leq 500$) species, given in Newick format, followed by a multiple alignment of $m$ ($m \leq n$) augmented DNA strings having the same length (at most 300 bp) corresponding to the species and given in FASTA format.

Return: The minimum possible value of $d_{\textrm{H}}(T)$, followed by a collection of DNA strings to be assigned to the internal nodes of $T$ that will minimize $d_{\textrm{H}}(T)$ (multiple solutions will exist, but you need only output one).

Sample Dataset


Sample Output



Given internal strings minimizing $d_{\textrm{H}}(T)$, the alignment between any two adjacent strings is not necessarily an optimal global paired alignment. In other words, it may not be the case that $d_{\textrm{H}}(\overline{s}_i, \overline{s}_j)$ is equal to the edit distance $d_{\textrm{E}}(s_i, s_j)$.

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