TreeTime class documentation

TreeTime is the top-level wrapper class of the time tree inference package. In addition to inferring time trees, TreeTime can reroot your tree, resolve polytomies, mark tips that violate the molecular clock, or infer coalescent models. The core time tree inference is implemented in the class ClockTree.

TreeTime docstring and constructor

class treetime.TreeTime(*args, **kwargs)[source]

TreeTime is a wrapper class to ClockTree that adds additional functionality such as reroot, detection and exclusion of outliers, resolution of polytomies using temporal information, and relaxed molecular clock models

__init__(*args, **kwargs)[source]

TreeTime constructor

  • *args – Arguments to construct ClockTree

  • **kwargs – Keyword arguments to construct the GTR model

Main pipeline method, infer_gtr=True, relaxed_clock=None, n_iqd=None, resolve_polytomies=True, max_iter=0, Tc=None, fixed_clock_rate=None, time_marginal=False, sequence_marginal=False, branch_length_mode='auto', vary_rate=False, use_covariation=False, tracelog_file=None, **kwargs)[source]

Run TreeTime reconstruction. Based on the input parameters, it divides the analysis into semi-independent jobs and conquers them one-by-one, gradually optimizing the tree given the temporal constarints and leaf node sequences.

  • root (str) –

    Try to find better root position on a given tree. If string is passed, the root will be searched according to the specified method. If none, use tree as-is.

    See treetime.TreeTime.reroot() for available rooting methods.

  • infer_gtr (bool) – If True, infer GTR model

  • relaxed_clock (dic) – If not None, use autocorrelated molecular clock model. Specify the clock parameters as {slack:<slack>, coupling:<coupling>} dictionary.

  • n_iqd (float) – If not None, filter tree nodes which do not obey the molecular clock for the particular tree. The nodes, which deviate more than n_iqd interquantile intervals from the molecular clock regression will be marked as ‘BAD’ and not used in the TreeTime analysis

  • resolve_polytomies (bool) – If True, attempt to resolve multiple mergers

  • max_iter (int) – Maximum number of iterations to optimize the tree

  • Tc (float, str) –

    If not None, use coalescent model to correct the branch lengths by introducing merger costs.

    If Tc is float, it is interpreted as the coalescence time scale

    If Tc is str, it should be one of (opt, const, skyline)

  • fixed_clock_rate (float) – Fixed clock rate to be used. If None, infer clock rate from the molecular clock.

  • time_marginal (bool) – If True, perform a final round of marginal reconstruction of the node’s positions.

  • sequence_marginal (bool, optional) – use marginal reconstruction for ancestral sequences

  • branch_length_mode (str) –

    Should be one of: joint, marginal, input.

    If ‘input’, rely on the branch lengths in the input tree and skip directly to the maximum-likelihood ancestral sequence reconstruction. Otherwise, perform preliminary sequence reconstruction using parsimony algorithm and do branch length optimization

  • vary_rate (bool or float, optional) – redo the time tree estimation for rates +/- one standard deviation. if a float is passed, it is interpreted as standard deviation, otherwise this standard deviation is estimated from the root-to-tip regression

  • use_covariation (bool, optional) – default False, if False, rate estimates will be performed using simple regression ignoring phylogenetic covaration between nodes. If vary_rate is True, use_covariation is true by default

  • **kwargs – Keyword arguments needed by the downstream functions


TreeTime error/succces code – return value depending on success or error

Return type


Additional functionality


Resolve the polytomies on the tree.

The function scans the tree, resolves polytomies if present, and re-optimizes the tree with new topology. Note that polytomies are only resolved if that would result in higher likelihood. Sometimes, stretching two or more branches that carry several mutations is less costly than an additional branch with zero mutations (long branches are not stiff, short branches are).


merge_compressed (bool) – If True, keep compressed branches as polytomies. If False, return a strictly binary tree.


poly_found – The number of polytomies found

Return type


TreeTime.relaxed_clock(slack=None, coupling=None, **kwargs)[source]

Allow the mutation rate to vary on the tree (relaxed molecular clock). Changes of the mutation rates from one branch to another are penalized. In addition, deviation of the mutation rate from the mean rate is penalized.

  • slack (float) – Maximum change in substitution rate between parent and child nodes

  • coupling (float) – Maximum difference in substitution rates in sibling nodes

TreeTime.clock_filter(reroot='least-squares', n_iqd=None, plot=False, fixed_clock_rate=None)[source]

Labels outlier branches that don’t seem to follow a molecular clock and excludes them from subsequent molecular clock estimation and the timetree propagation.

  • reroot (str) – Method to find the best root in the tree (see treetime.TreeTime.reroot() for options)

  • n_iqd (float) –

    Number of iqd intervals. The outlier nodes are those which do not fall into \(IQD\cdot n_iqd\) interval (\(IQD\) is the interval between 75th and 25th percentiles)

    If None, the default (3) assumed

  • plot (bool) – If True, plot the results

TreeTime.reroot(root='least-squares', force_positive=True, covariation=None, clock_rate=None)[source]

Find best root and re-root the tree to the new root


root (str) –

Which method should be used to find the best root. Available methods are:

best, least-squares - minimize squared residual or likelihood of root-to-tip regression

min_dev - minimize variation of root-to-tip distance

oldest - reroot on the oldest node

<node_name> - reroot to the node with name <node_name>

[<node_name1>, <node_name2>, ...] - reroot to the MRCA of these nodes


only consider positive rates when searching for the optimal root


account for covariation in root-to-tip regression

TreeTime.plot_root_to_tip(add_internal=False, label=True, ax=None)[source]

Plot root-to-tip regression

  • add_internal (bool) – If true, plot inte`rnal node positions

  • label (bool) – If true, label the plots

  • ax (matplotlib axes) – If not None, use the provided matplotlib axes to plot the results


Print the total likelihood of the tree given the constrained leaves


joint (bool) – If true, print joint LH, else print marginal LH

treetime.plot_vs_years(tt, step=None, ax=None, confidence=None, ticks=True, **kwargs)[source]

Converts branch length to years and plots the time tree on a time axis.

  • tt (TreeTime object) – A TreeTime instance after a time tree is inferred

  • step (int) – Width of shaded boxes indicating blocks of years. Will be inferred if not specified. To switch off drawing of boxes, set to 0

  • ax (matplotlib axes) – Axes to be used to plot, will create new axis if None

  • confidence (tuple, float) – Draw confidence intervals. This assumes that marginal time tree inference was run. Confidence intervals are either specified as an interval of the posterior distribution like (0.05, 0.95) or as the weight of the maximal posterior region , e.g. 0.9

  • **kwargs (dict) – Key word arguments that are passed down to Phylo.draw