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How and Why to Build a Unified Tree of Life [BioEssays]

Keywords : open science, evolution, data deposition, phylogeny, tree of life

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Phylogenetic trees are a crucial backbone for a wide breadth of biological research spanning systematics, organismal biology, ecology, and medicine. In 2015, the Open Tree of Life project published a first draft of a comprehensive tree of life, summarizing digitally available taxonomic and phylogenetic knowledge. This paper reviews, investigates, and addresses the following questions as a follow-up to that paper, from the perspective of researchers involved in building this summary of the tree of life : Is there a tree of life and should we reconstruct it ? Is available data sufficient to reconstruct the tree of life ? Do we have access to phylogenetic inferences in usable form ? Can we combine different phylogenetic estimates across the tree of life ? And finally, what is the future of understanding the tree of life ?

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