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A library for working with phylogenetic data.

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Genesis is a C++ library for working with phylogenetic data:

  • Trees
    • Read, annotate and write trees in various formats.
    • Versatile tree data structure that can store any data on the edges and nodes.
    • Easily iterate trees with different policies (e.g., postorder, preorder).
    • Directly draw trees with colored branches to SVG files.
  • Placements
    • Read, manipulate and write jplace files from phylogenetic placement analyses.
    • Manipulate placement data: extract, filter, merge, and much more.
    • Calculate distance measures (e.g., KR distance, EDPL).
    • Run analyses like k-means Clustering, Squash Clustering, Edge PCA.
    • Visualize aspects like read abundances or correlation with meta-data on the branches of the tree.
  • Sequences and Taxonomies
    • Read, filter, manipulate and write sequences in fasta and phylip format.
    • Calculate consensus sequences with different methods.
    • Work with taxonomic paths and build a taxonomic hierarchy.
  • Utilities
    • Math tools (matrices, histograms, statistics functions etc)
    • Color support (color lists, gradients etc, for making colored trees)
    • Various supportive file formats (bmp, csv, json, xml and more)

This is just an overview of the more prominent features. See the API reference for more.

Genesis is a library that is intended for researchers and developers who want to build their own tools and methods, or run their own custom analyses. If you are simply interested in analyzing your data with our methods, have a look at our command line tool Gappa.

Setup and Getting Started

For download and build instructions, see Setup.

You futhermore find all the information for getting started with genesis in the documentation. It contains a user manual with setup instructions and tutorials, as well as the full API reference.

For user support, please see our Phylogenetic Placement Google Group. It is intended for discussions about phylogenetic placement, and for user support for our software tools. You can also find support for EPA-ng and Gappa there.

For bug reports and feature requests, please open an issue on our GitHub page.


A focus point of the toolkit is to work with phylogenetic placements. The following figure summarized the placement position of 7.5 mio short reads on a reference tree with 190 taxa. The color code indicates the number of reads placed on each branch.

Phylogenetic tree with coloured branches.

This and other methods are presented in our manuscripts

Methods for Inference of Automatic Reference Phylogenies and Multilevel Phylogenetic Placement.
Lucas Czech, Pierre Barbera, and Alexandros Stamatakis.
Bioinformatics, 2018.


Scalable Methods for Analyzing and Visualizing Phylogenetic Placement of Metagenomic Samples.
Lucas Czech and Alexandros Stamatakis.
PLOS One, 2019.

See there for more on what Genesis can do.


When using Genesis, please cite

Genesis and Gappa: processing, analyzing and visualizing phylogenetic (placement) data.
Lucas Czech, Pierre Barbera, and Alexandros Stamatakis.
Bioinformatics, 2020.

Also, see Gappa for our command line tool to run your own analyses.

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