Motivation: Traditional phylogenetic methods assume tree-like evolutionary models and are likely to perform poorly when provided with sequence data from fast-evolving, recombining viruses. Furthermore, these methods assume that all the sequence data are from contemporaneous taxa, which is not valid for serially-sampled data. A more general approach is proposed here, referred to as the Sliding MinPD method, that reconstructs evolutionary networks for serially-sampled sequences in the presence of recombination.
Results: Sliding MinPD combines distance-based phylogenetic methods with automated recombination detection based on the best-known sliding window approaches to reconstruct serial evolutionary networks. Its performance was evaluated through comprehensive simulation studies and was also applied to a set of serially-sampled HIV sequences from a single patient. The resulting network organizations reveal unique patterns of viral evolution and may help explain the emergence of disease-associated mutants and drug-resistant strains with implications for patient prognosis and treatment strategies.