Phylogenetic tree representation in n-dimensional space
By Cole Lyman
Traditional phylogenetic trees are represented as bifurcating trees, where the leaf nodes represent taxa and the internal nodes represent common ancestors. Bifurcating trees offer advantages of interpreting common ancestors as well as being widely accepted; however, this representation could limit latent evolutionary relationships that may be present but are impossible to represent in a two-dimensional bifurcating tree.
I propose that higher dimensional representations of phylogenetic trees be explored in order to show the complex evolutionary relationships that are present between taxa. Given the substantial amount of genetic data that could be used for phylogenetic studies, one could feasibly create methods that utilize these data and represent it in three or more dimensions. This higher dimensional representation of phylogenetic trees could offer new insights into traditionally difficult trees to reconstruct because it would offer more precise representations of the relationship between taxa than a bifurcating tree.
Lastly, this high dimensional representation of the tree could be reduced down to a traditional bifurcating tree representation through processes such as agglomerative clustering, which would allow the high dimensional representation to be compared to existing traditional trees.