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phyloGeoRef: a geo-referencing library implemented in Java


Kathryn Iverson


The goal of this project is to create a geo-referencing library for parsing and displaying geographical and phylogenetic information. The main aim of the project is to bring together geographical and phylogenetic information in a way that is usable and useful to the user. Given an input of a tree file and geographical information the library will return a tree with phylogenetic and geographical information in a format such as KML or shapefile or a georeferenced phylogenetic format such as neXML.


Ideas for GSoC 2011

Improvements for GSoC 2011

3 main goals -- probably won't be able to address them all in the coding period

  • Support NeXML
  • Improve visualization
  • Support database integration

The first two are the most important. I think adding NeXML support and improving visualization are both doable during the coding period. Supporting NeXML is fairly strait forward in terms of what needs to be accomplished. The library should be able to read in a NeXML file, parse it and then use functions already built into the library to construct the KML file.

Visualization is more open ended. One of the concrete goals is to have the branch lengths of the trees accurately represent evolutionary distance (see the implementation suggestion below). Once this is accomplished it would be nice to be able to color subtrees based on user provided data. For example, highlight all members of the proteobacteria. This would be accomplished by the user providing a list of proteobacteria as a CSV and phyloGeoRef would color branches that have those bacteria listed. This could be done for any user provided data in a CSV file. Another example would be given a list of genes and species that have those genes, highlight the species on the tree. These are just a few examples of the many possibilities for visualization. I am open to any other visualization ideas students have or think would be useful.

Supporting NeXML

NeXML is becoming a standard format for representing phylogenetic information. As such phyloGeoRef should be able to support this format. Key things to be addressed are parsing the NeXML data and representing it on a phylogenetic tree and Google Earth. Parsing the data will be the most important part. There is already infrastructure in phyloGeoRef to support this information, the extraction is what needs work

Improving visualization

This is a very important part of the project as the end product is a visualization of the phylogenetic tree. Currently there are a few ways of improving this. A good implementation is suggester here:

It would also be nice to display information about the tree such as bootstrap values and confidence. Right now there is a place for "metadata" but this is quite vague and it would be nice to have specific information available. For example, if a user clicks on a node a bubble should pop up with information about that species and the sample site from which it was collected. Other information can be displayed as well. This could come from a CSV file associated with the data or included in the NeXML file.

Supporting database integration

This is of least importance right now, but time permitting it would be nice to add functions that could extract data from phylogenetic trees stored in a database. For example TreeBase. TreeBase supports NeXML so this should work well once NeXML support is implemented.

Project Plan

Bonding period

Tasks: Gather sample tree files, KML files and other files used by the library; set up development environment; learn about geographical data files; catalog java tree and geospatial libraries Deliverables: psudocode for project -- what information needs to be extracted and how to store it; set up github account and integrate with Eclipse or other IDE, join mailing lists; study KML files; list of relevant java libraries

Approach and organization:

Start small and expand as needed. In this case I'm staring with the basic ability to take a tree file, deliminated file and Take a select few types of files to completion, then add more

A lot of the functions I need for this project have already been written and with a little modification they can be easily implemented in my library. This will allow me to be a little more creative and expand the scope of the library and what the library can do, beyond the original intention.

Week 1:

Define tree parser

Define csv parser

Define delimitated file parser, tsv and user defined

Start storeTree class

Week 2:

Finish storeTree class: Phylogeny array parser Define function to add latitude, longitude and altitude data to each node. this will probably change a little bit once the actual algorithm is implemented Define functions to parse shapefiles using GeoTools library Define function to add metadata to the tree -> should be an extension of, or similar to, the csv parser already implemented.

Week 3:

Implement algorithm from Jamies et al, nodeAltitude = a + ((n-1)*b) where a is the altitude of a node with only terminal leafs (based on the size of the tree), b is the altitude of nodes that are ancestral to more than one node and n is the number of node from the current node to the leaf.

Week 4:

Implement latitude and longitude algorithm. Leafs will get their lat/long data from the coord file.

Week 5:

Define kml writer using jak library. Most of the KML writer functions exist in this library so my job will be to make sure the data is populated correctly. A major part of this will be telling kml how to draw the trees, ie where to put branches (line or pathway) and nodes (points).

Week 6:

Work on KML writer -- get a tree in KML

Week 7: July 4th-10th

  • Improve KML writer and the appearance of the tree.
  • Write function for trees with multiple leafs of the same species.
  • Outline algorithms for large tress and trees with globally distributed leafs

Week 8: July 11-17th

  • Implement large tree and globally distributed tree algorithms

Week 9: July 18-24th

  • Add support for other file types such as neXML and possibly an SQL interface.

Week 10:July 25th-31st

  • Continue neXML and SQL support

Week 11: August 1st-9th

  • Testing and bugfixing

Week 12: August 10th-16th

  • Documentation


Janies, D., Hill, A.W., Habib, F., Guralnick, R., Waltari, E., Wheeler, W.C., 2007. Genomic analysis and geographic visualization of the spread of avian influenza (H5N1). Syst. Biol. 56, 321–329.