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Systematics of the Neotropical Blueberry Genus Disterigma (Ericaceae)

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Disterigma s. l. comprises 37 species of small shrubs found in Central and South America, mostly in cloud forests and páramos. The notion that the morphological circumscription of Disterigma s. l. is too wide and that it may not be a monophyletic group was supported by recent molecular evidence extracted from only a few species of Disterigma. This study addresses the monophyly and position of Disterigma s. l. within the complex blueberry tribe Vaccinieae through an intensive taxon sampling. Seventy-nine species are sampled, including 84% of the species of Disterigma s. l. and 13 genera of neotropical Vaccinieae. The parsimony analysis of nrITS and ndhF data reveal that Disterigma s. l. is polyphyletic with three independent origins within Vaccinieae. The majority of the species form a well supported monophyletic group, Disterigma s. s., which is located within a large Andean clade; all Disterigma s. s. species share the presence of a differentiated pair of apical bracteoles. Segregated from Disterigma s. s., but also Andean in origin, is the novel Central Andes Segregated Disterigma clade, where D. bracteatum, D. pentandrum, D. rimbachii, and D. ulei are found. Also resolved outside of Disterigma s. s. is D. trimerum, a taxon of Mesoamerican origin.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-04-01

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