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Klak, C., Bruyns, P.V. and Hanacek, P. 2013. A phylogenetic hypothesis for the recently diversified Ruschieae (Aizoaceae) in southern Africa. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 69(3): 1005–1020


Description:

A phylogenetic hypothesis for the recently diversified Ruschieae (Aizoaceae) in southern Africa.

Summary / Notes:

The Ruschieae is a large tribe of about 1600 species of succulent perennials. They form a major component of the arid parts of the Greater Cape Floristic Region, both in numbers of species and in their density of coverage. So far phylogenetic relationships within the tribe have been unresolved, largely through the paucity of variable molecular characters and this is ascribed to the tribe’s recent and rapid radiation. Our phylogeny is based on 10 chloroplast gene regions and represents a nearly complete sampling of the 100 currently recognised genera of the Ruschieae. These chloroplast regions yielded relatively few phylogenetically informative characters, consequently providing only limited resolution in and poor support for many parts of the phylogeny. Nevertheless, for the first time, we provide well-supported evidence that taxa with mostly mesomorphic, often ephemeral leaves and weakly persistent fruits form a basal grade of lineages in the Ruschieae. These lineages subtend a large polytomy of taxa with almost exclusively xeromorphic, persistent leaves and strongly persisting fruits. Among the basal grade of lineages, those occurring within the winter-rainfall region typically shed their leaves or form (at least partly) a protective, dry sheath around the apical bud during the dry summer months, as a means of escaping the summer drought. This contrasts with taxa of the basal grade from outside the winter-rainfall region, in which the leaves persist. Our results show that, in both strongly and weakly persistent fruits, specialised characteristics of the fruit evolved repeatedly and so these structures are highly homoplasious. Perhaps as a consequence of repeated changes towards increased persistence and specialisation of leaves and fruits, several clades show little morphological cohesion. However, as in other groups in the Cape Flora, most clades in the Ruschieae represent regional groupings. Our analysis of sequences of the nuclear gene ‘chloroplast-expressed glutamine synthetase’ (ncpGS) revealed extensive paralogy within the Ruschieae, but found an intact reading frame in all its members. More data on the cytology of the Ruschieae is needed to evaluate whether the paralogy observed is due to gene duplication or polyploidy.

Year: 2013

Type: Journal Article

URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1055790313002443


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