# phylogram: dendrograms for evolutionary analysis

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Evolutionary biologists are increasingly using R for building,

editing and visualizing phylogenetic trees.

The reproducible code-based workflow and comprehensive array of tools

available in packages such as ape,

phangorn and

phytools make R an ideal platform for

phylogenetic analysis.

Yet the many different tree formats are not well integrated,

as pointed out in a recent

post.

The standard data structure for phylogenies in R is the “phylo”

object, a memory efficient, matrix-based tree representation.

However, non-biologists have tended to use a tree structure

called the “dendrogram”, which is a deeply nested list with

node properties defined by various attributes stored at each level.

While certainly not as memory efficient as the matrix-based format,

dendrograms are versatile and intuitive to manipulate, and hence

a large number of analytical and visualization functions exist

for this object type. A good example is the

dendextend package,

which features an impressive range of options for editing dendrograms

and plotting publication-quality trees.

To better integrate the phylo and dendrogram object types,

and hence increase the options available for both camps,

we developed the phylogram

package, which is now a part of the rOpenSci

project.

This small package features a handful of functions for tree conversion,

importing and exporting trees as parenthetic text, and manipulating

dendrograms for phylogenetic applications.

The `phylogram`

package draws heavily on ape,

but currently has no other non-standard dependencies.

### Installation

To download `phylogram`

from CRAN and load the package, run

```
install.packages("phylogram")
library(phylogram)
```

Alternatively, to download the latest development version from GitHub,

first ensure that the devtools,

kmer, and

dendextend

packages are installed,

then run:

```
devtools::install_github("ropensci/phylogram", build_vignettes = TRUE)
library(phylogram)
```

### Tree import/export

A wide variety of tree formats can be parsed as phylo objects using either the

well-optimized `ape::read.tree`

function

(for Newick

strings),

or the suite of specialized functions in the versatile

treeio package.

To convert a phylo object to a dendrogram, the `phylogram`

package includes

the function `as.dendrogram`

, which retains node height attributes and can handle

non-ultrametric trees.

For single-line parsing of dendrograms from Newick text,

the `read.dendrogram`

function wraps `ape::read.tree`

and converts the resulting phylo class object to a dendrogram using `as.dendrogram`

.

Similarly, the functions `write.dendrogram`

and `as.phylo`

are used to

export dendrogram objects to parenthetic text and phylo objects, respectively.

### Tree editing

The `phylogram`

package includes some new functions for manipulating

trees in dendrogram format.

Leaf nodes and internal branching nodes can be removed

using the function `prune`

, which identifies and

recursively deletes nodes based on pattern

matching of “label” attributes.

This is slower than `ape::drop.tip`

, but offers

the benefits of versatile string matching using regular expressions,

and the ability to remove inner nodes (and by extension all subnodes)

that feature matching “label” attributes.

To aid visualization, the function `ladder`

rearranges

the tree, sorting nodes by the number of members

(analogous to `ape::ladderize`

).

For more controlled subsetting or when creating trees from scratch

(e.g. from a standard nested list), the function `remidpoint`

recursively corrects all “midpoint”, “members” and “leaf” attributes.

Node heights can then be manipulated using either `reposition`

, which

scales the heights of all nodes in a tree by a given constant, or

`as.cladogram`

, which resets the “height” attributes of all terminal

leaf nodes to zero and progressively resets the heights of the inner nodes

in single incremental units.

As an example, a simple three-leaf dendrogram can be created from

a nested list as follows:

```
x <- list(1, list(2, 3))
## set class, midpoint, members and leaf attributes for each node
x <- remidpoint(x)
## set height attributes for each node
x <- as.cladogram(x)
```

A nice feature of the dendrogram object type is that tree

editing operations can be carried out recursively

using fast inbuilt functions in the “apply” family such as `dendrapply`

and `lapply`

.

For example, to label each leaf node of the tree alphabetically we can

create a simple labeling function and apply it to the tree nodes recursively using

`dendrapply`

.

```
set_label <- function(node){
if(is.leaf(node)) attr(node, "label") <- LETTERS[node]
return(node)
}
x <- dendrapply(x, set_label)
plot(x, horiz = TRUE)
```

### Applications

One application motivating bi-directional conversion between phylo and

dendrogram objects involves creating publication-quality ‘tanglegrams’ using

the dendextend package.

For example, to see how well the fast, alignment-free *k*-mer distance

from the kmer package

performs in comparison to the standard Kimura 1980 distance measure,

we can create neighbor-joining trees using each method and plot them side by side

to check for incongruent nodes.

```
## load woodmouse data and remove columns with ambiguities
data(woodmouse, package = "ape")
woodmouse <- woodmouse[, apply(woodmouse, 2, function(v) !any(v == 0xf0))]
## compute Kimura 1980 pairwise distance matrix
dist1 <- ape::dist.dna(woodmouse, model = "K80")
## deconstruct alignment (not strictly necessary)
woodmouse <- as.list(as.data.frame(unclass(t(woodmouse))))
## compute kmer distance matrix
dist2 <- kmer::kdistance(woodmouse, k = 7)
## build and ladderize neighbor-joining trees
phy1 <- ape::nj(dist1)
phy2 <- ape::nj(dist2)
phy1 <- ape::ladderize(phy1)
phy2 <- ape::ladderize(phy2)
## convert phylo objects to dendrograms
dnd1 <- as.dendrogram(phy1)
dnd2 <- as.dendrogram(phy2)
## plot the tanglegram
dndlist <- dendextend::dendlist(dnd1, dnd2)
dendextend::tanglegram(dndlist, fast = TRUE, margin_inner = 5)
```

In this case, the trees are congruent and branch lengths are similar.

However, if we reduce the *k*-mer size from 7 to 6,

the accuracy of the tree reconstruction is affected, as shown by the

incongruence between the original K80 tree (left) and the tree derived

from the 6-mer distance matrix (right):

```
## compute kmer distance matrix
dist3 <- kmer::kdistance(woodmouse, k = 6)
phy3 <- ape::nj(dist3)
phy3 <- ape::ladderize(phy3)
dnd3 <- as.dendrogram(phy3)
dndlist <- dendextend::dendlist(dnd1, dnd3)
dendextend::tanglegram(dndlist, fast = TRUE, margin_inner = 5)
```

Hopefully users will find the package useful for a range of other applications.

Bug reports and other suggestions are welcomed, and can be directed to the

GitHub issues page

or the phylogram google group.

Thanks to Will Cornwell and

Ben J. Ward

for reviewing the code and suggesting improvements,

and to Scott Chamberlain

for handling the rOpenSci

onboarding process.

The `phylogram`

package is available for download from

GitHub and

CRAN,

and a summary of the package is published in the

Journal of Open Source Software.

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