Background: Recombination has a profound impact on the evolution of viruses, but characterizing recombination patterns in molecular sequences remains a challenging endeavor. Despite its importance in molecular evolutionary studies, identifying the sequences that exhibit such patterns has received comparatively less attention in the recombination detection framework. Here, we extend a quartet-mapping based recombination detection method to enable identification of recombinant sequences without prior specifications of either query and reference sequences. Through simulations we evaluate different recombinant identification statistics and significance tests. We compare the quartet approach with triplet-based methods that employ additional heuristic tests to identify parental and recombinant sequences.