Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Since recombination leads to the generation of mosaic genomes that violate the assumption of traditional phylogenetic methods that sequence evolution can be accurately described by a single tree, results and conclusions based on phylogenetic analysis of data sets including recombinant sequences can be severely misleading. Many methods are able to adequately detect recombination between diverse sequences, for example between different HIV-1 subtypes. More problematic is the identification of recombinants among closely related sequences such as a viral population within a host. We describe a simple algorithmic procedure that enables detection of intra-host recombinants based on split-decomposition networks and a robust statistical test for recombination. By applying this algorithm to several published HIV-1 data sets we conclude that intra-host recombination was significantly underestimated in previous studies and that up to one-third of the env sequences longitudinally sampled from a given subject can be of recombinant origin. The results show that our procedure can be a valuable exploratory tool for detection of recombinant sequences before phylogenetic analysis, and also suggest that HIV-1 recombination in vivo is far more frequent and significant than previously thought.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Phylogenet Evol

Publication Date





618 - 628


Algorithms, DNA, Viral, Evolution, Molecular, Genetics, Population, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Humans, Models, Genetic, Phylogeny, Recombination, Genetic, Sequence Alignment, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Statistics, Nonparametric