Open Tree of Life

The Open Tree of Life is an online phylogenetic tree of life – a collaborative effort, funded by the National Science Foundation.[2][3] The first draft, including 2.3 million species, was released in September 2015.[4] The Interactive graph allows the user to zoom in to taxonomic classifications, phylogenetic trees, and information about a node. Clicking on a species will return its source and reference taxonomy.

The tree of life at the node Eukaryota
Open Tree of Life
Available inEnglish
Registrationnot required
LaunchedSeptember 2015
Current statusactive
Content license
BSD 2-clause (FreeBSD)[1]


The project uses a supertree approach to generate a single phylogenetic tree (served at[5]) from a comprehensive taxonomy and a curated set of published phylogenetic estimates.

The taxonomy is a combination of several large classifications produced by other projects; it is created using a software tool called "smasher".[6] The resulting taxonomy is called an Open Tree Taxonomy (OTT) and can be browsed on-line.[7]


The project was started in June 2012 with a three-year NSF award to researchers at ten universities. In 2015, a two-year supplemental award was made to researchers at three institutions.

See also


  1. "OpenTreeOfLife License".
  2. Hinchliff CE, Smith SA, Allman JF, Burleigh JG, Chaudhary R, Coghill LM, et al. (October 2015). "Synthesis of phylogeny and taxonomy into a comprehensive tree of life". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 112 (41): 12764–9. Bibcode:2015PNAS..11212764H. doi:10.1073/pnas.1423041112. PMC 4611642. PMID 26385966.
  3. "Assembling, Visualizing, and Analyzing the Tree of Life". National Science Foundation (NSF). Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  4. Pennisi E (21 September 2015). "First comprehensive tree of life shows how related you are to millions of species". Science Magazine.
  5. "opentree". Open Tree of Life developers.
  6. Rees JA, Cranston K (2017). "Automated assembly of a reference taxonomy for phylogenetic data synthesis". Biodiversity Data Journal. 5 (5): e12581. doi:10.3897/BDJ.5.e12581. PMC 5515096. PMID 28765728.
  7. "".
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