Question: What Is A Good Phylogenetic Tree Display Program For Large Data Sets?
gravatar for Niek De Klein
7.7 years ago by
Niek De Klein2.4k
Niek De Klein2.4k wrote:

I'm looking for a phylogenetic tree display program that can handle large data sets well. I'm currently using NJ-plot and phylip but I find that these get unclear with large data sets. I'm using clustalX for the multiple sequence alignment and to draw the trees.


viewer phylogenetics tree tool • 37k views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 6.2 years ago by Farhat2.8k • written 7.7 years ago by Niek De Klein2.4k

hasn't this been covered already? take a look:

ADD REPLYlink written 7.7 years ago by Jorge Amigo10k

Maybe you could be a little more specific- what do you mean by "large data sets"?

ADD REPLYlink written 7.7 years ago by Dave Lunt2.0k
gravatar for lh3
7.4 years ago by
United States
lh330k wrote:

This is an old question, but as I have seen it...

In general, a good start is the list of tree editors maintained by Richard Christen. It is quite comprehensive. I will give my personal experiences for the few I have used. In the following, a small tree has <100 leaves, a medium tree 100-1000 leaves, and a large tree has 1000-10000. I have not tried huge trees with >10000 leaves.

  • Archaeopteryx. This is my favorite. It is responsive given large trees and is one of the few supporting topology editing. Nonetheless, the circular view, which is in alpha, is not as good as others. I do not like its black background, either.

  • FigTree. A nice tree viewer. Work efficiently with medium to large trees. It is more versatile than Archaeopteryx on viewing (e.g. the fish-eye mode and the circular layout). No topology editing.

  • Dendroscope. A viewer (almost no editing options) designed for huge trees. The selling point is its efficiency, better than both FigTree and Archaeopteryx. Nonetheless, it does not seem to aim to produce publication-ready figures (e.g. no subtree highlighting). The circular view, like in Archaeopteryx, looks ugly because texts are not rotated.

  • Jstree. My hobby. The first Javascript based tree editor, supporting operations such as subtree cut-and-paste. In firefox/opera/chrome/safari, it is pretty responsive for medium to large trees.

  • PhyloWidget. It has a very impressive user interface, smooth and responsive given large trees. It supports topology editing. My major complaints are: a) I frequently scroll the tree out of the canvas but do not know how to get it back quickly; b) at least on my laptop, it is eating up CPU without actually doing anything.

  • iTOL. A very nice tree viewer (no editing) written in Flash, but the responsiveness is not as good as those Java-based viewers. For medium trees, its rectangle view only displays the first tens of leaves.

  • TreeGraph2. As is stated in its paper, treegraph2 mainly aim to produce beautiful high-quality figures for small trees. It supports many operations on trees, but its responsiveness is very bad.

  • Mesquite. A very comprehensive software suite. It is efficient enough for large trees, but the user interface is not very friendly.

  • TreeDyn. I have heard a lot of good things about it, but unfortunately, its Mac binary is not working in Mac OS X 10.6, so I have not tried.

  • TreeViewJ. Nice UI, but not efficient enough for medium trees.

  • Treevoletion. Nice UI, but inefficient for medium trees.

My recommendation is: FigTree, Dendroscope or Archaeopteryx for tree viewing; Archaeopteryx for topology editing; TreeGraph 2 (for small trees only) for publication-quality figures; Jstree for a web interface.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 7.4 years ago • written 7.4 years ago by lh330k

Just a note on Dendroscope : you can highlight the nodes and branches of the tree using the built-in editor (which is painful) or use a script to parse a Dendroscope output file. Example tree highlighter code @

ADD REPLYlink written 6.4 years ago by Pasted0

I see, but the point of a viewer is not to write scripts... Anyway, thanks.

ADD REPLYlink written 6.4 years ago by lh330k
gravatar for Lars Juhl Jensen
7.7 years ago by
Copenhagen, Denmark
Lars Juhl Jensen11k wrote:

I would recommend that you take a look at iTOL. It is purely web based, can visualize trees with several thousand nodes, and additionally allows you to map other data onto your tree for visualization.

ADD COMMENTlink written 7.7 years ago by Lars Juhl Jensen11k
gravatar for iw9oel_ad
7.7 years ago by
iw9oel_ad6.0k wrote:

I would recommend Phylowidget. A standalone version is available, as is the source code (Java) and it can cope with large trees. The nodes may be edited and it guarantees a minimum text size for large trees.

Alternatively, TreeGraph 2 is another good option. Also open source (Java) and allowing various edits and annotation.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 7.7 years ago • written 7.7 years ago by iw9oel_ad6.0k
gravatar for Alex
7.7 years ago by
East Lansing
Alex150 wrote:

I would recommend figtree (, it is a good program, maybe you will require some tine to figure out how to use it, but it is not that difficult. Also, i don't know how big is your data but you can have nice figures for presentations and papers.

ADD COMMENTlink written 7.7 years ago by Alex150
gravatar for Adam Monier
7.7 years ago by
Adam Monier190
Santa Cruz, California, USA
Adam Monier190 wrote:

For large scale phylogenies I strongly recommend Dendroscope.

Beside dealing extremely well with a large amount of leaves, one of its advantages is the possibility to select leaves via a file containing IDs. Like some other tree visualization softwares, it allows SVG export so that you can work on the graphical aspects of your tree in a SVG editor such as Inkscape.

Another solution would be treedyn, needs some time investment to understand the syntax but it's worth it.

ADD COMMENTlink written 7.7 years ago by Adam Monier190
gravatar for Sashi Kiran Challa
7.7 years ago by
Portland, Oregon
Sashi Kiran Challa300 wrote:

Hii, if you have too many sequences, and a lot of them cluttering up at a spot, may be you could look at multiple sequence alignment (I have used MEGA for this) and look if they are very identical. If you find lot of them identical, you could probably do clustering(CD-HIT) and then build a tree with the representative sequences from the clusters obtained.

iTOL, Treeview, MEGA, ATV are good tools out there to visualize trees.

ADD COMMENTlink written 7.7 years ago by Sashi Kiran Challa300
gravatar for Botond Sipos
7.4 years ago by
Botond Sipos1.6k
United Kingdom
Botond Sipos1.6k wrote:

The APE R package also comes handy when drawing large trees. It allows the tuning of tree aesthetics by scripting. Check out this gallery.

ADD COMMENTlink written 7.4 years ago by Botond Sipos1.6k
gravatar for Farhat
7.4 years ago by
Pune, India
Farhat2.8k wrote:

If by large datasets you means trees with a large number of nodes you could try using Walrus The gallery on their website shows trees with several tens of thousands to several hundred thousand nodes.

ADD COMMENTlink written 7.4 years ago by Farhat2.8k
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