In biology, phylogenetics (pronounced /faɪlɵdʒɪˈnɛtɪks/) is the study of evolutionary relatedness among groups of organisms (e.g. species, populations), which is discovered through molecular sequencing data and morphological data matrices. The term phylogenetics derives from the Greek terms phyle (φυλή) and phylon (φῦλον), denoting “tribe” and “race”; and the term genetikos (γενετικός), denoting “relative to birth”, from genesis (γένεσις) “birth”.
Taxonomy, the classification, identification, and naming of organisms, is richly informed by phylogenetics, but remains methodologically and logically distinct. The fields of phylogenetics and taxonomy overlap in the science of phylogenetic systematics — one methodology, cladism (also cladistics) shared derived characters (synapomorphies) used to create ancestor-descendant trees (cladograms) and delimit taxa (clades). In biological systematics as a whole, phylogenetic analyses have become essential in researching the evolutionary tree of life.
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