I have a species tree to which I am trying to add species, which includes a tip "Geissospermum laeve". When I run: with_polytomes = phytools::add.species.to.genus(tree, "Geissospermum polytome1", where='root'), the original tree is returned with the error message: 'could not match your species to a genus check spelling, including case'.

Reproducible example:

test_tree = ape::rtree(5)
test_tree$tip.label = c("t3 sp1", "t4 sp1", "t5 sp1", "t2 sp1", "t1 sp1")
with_polytomes = phytools::add.species.to.genus(test_tree, "t1 polytome1", where='root')

I don't understand why this is happening, if anyone could shed some light on what's causing this error that would be great


1 Answer 1


Two things to try,

  1. setting genus=NULL, The logic being it doesn't know which genus to add it to. Just as a precaution setting all blank space within a taxa id in the tree to _ ...
add.species.to.genus(test_tree, "t1_polytome1", genus=NULL, where=c("root"))

Maybe replace root with random to get it working.

  1. alternative using tree instead
genus.to.species.tree(test_tree, "t1_polytome1")
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I tried lots of different combinations of parameters but in the end the only thing that resolved the issue was using underscores instead of spaces in the tree labels i.e. test_tree$tip.label = c("t3_sp1", "t4_sp1", "t5_sp1", "t2_sp1", "t1_sp1"). Curiously though when the tip labels are set like this, the function works with species = "t1_polytome1" and species = "t1 polytome1". WRT (2), phytools::genus.to.species.tree(test_tree, "t1_polytome1") returned a tree without t1_polytome1 added and no error given, maybe because it expects a genus-level tree. $\endgroup$
    – A. Bollans
    Aug 9, 2023 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @A.Bollans thats good debugging. In tree files removing all blank space is standard practice, in phylip format this a bug. $\endgroup$
    – M__
    Aug 9, 2023 at 13:02

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