Jansson and Sung showed that, given a dense set of input triplets T (representing hypotheses about the local evolutionary relationships of triplets of species), it is possible to determine in polynomial time whether there exists a level-1 network consistent with T, and if so to construct such a network. Here we extend this work by showing that this problem is even polynomial-time solvable for the construction of level-2 networks. This shows that, assuming density, it is tractable to construct plausible evolutionary histories from input triplets even when such histories are heavily non-tree like. This further strengthens the case for the use of triplet-based methods in the construction of phylogenetic networks. We implemented the algorithm and applied it to yeast data.
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