More efficient algorithms and programming, videoconferencing! This all got me thinking about the three Rs: REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE in the context of phylogenetics. We can all do our bit to REDUCE our carbon footprint when doing phylogenetics. For starters, is the analysis I want to do really necessary, does it have to run as long, can we use a better, more efficient algorithms. Secondly, we can REUSE the trees that others have already done but this means that we need to get much better at sharing our trees. TreeBASE and DataDryad are undoubtedly playing an important role in enabling us to share phylogenies and thus reduce our carbon footprint. However, as discussed in "Towards a taxonomically intelligent phylogenetic database" by Rod Page the pace at which we are publishing phylogenies is not being matched by the submissions to TreeBASE. This leaves us with the last option to RECYCLE our trees. This should only be a last resort but ends up happening most of the time. For this we need to get back to our raw materials, the sequences, which fortunately are more consistently shared in GenBank and redo the analyses.
Hopefully, this time round the algorithm will produce less carbon and the data will be submitted to TreeBASE!