Project Description

Dr Simone Linz


The University of Auckland

Algorithms to reconstruct phylogenetic networks

Data science and machine learning for bioinformatics

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Simone Linz is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Auckland, and a Principal Investigator of the Centre for Computational Evolution. Prior to joining the University of Auckland, she held a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship at the University of Tübingen and the University of Canterbury. Her research interests include algorithmic and mathematical questions in evolutionary biology. In particular, she develops tool to reconstruct and analyse phylogenetic (evolutionary) trees and networks.

Recent advances in whole-genome studies provide increasingly strong evidence for a vital role of hybridisation in fortifying species and allowing them to adapt to new environments. To represent such complex evolutionary histories as a web of life rather than a simple bifurcating tree of life, phylogenetic (evolutionary) networks have become a popular tool. In comparison with trees, phylogenetic networks — which are graphs with underlying cycles — do not only represent speciation events but, additionally, allow for the representation of processes (e.g. hybridisation) in which distinct species recombine their genetic material and create a new species. In this talk, we investigate how tools from graph theory and theoretical computer science can be used to develop new algorithms that reconstruct a phylogenetic network from a collection of phylogenetic trees.