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Chromosomal evolution in Araliaceae and close relatives

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Chromosome numbers of 45 accessions representing 16 genera and 37 species of Araliaceae are herein reported, of which 30 species and seven genera (Apiopetalum, Arthrophyllum, Delarbrea, Merrilliopanax, Metapanax, Myodocarpus, and Pseudosciadium) are recorded for the first time. The evolution of this character is also examined in light of recent hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships. Chromosome numbers in the family are relatively uniform, generally with 2 n = 24 or 48. However, the genus Hedera exhibits extreme variability, with a polyploid series ranging from 2 n = 48 to 192. The basic number of Araliaceae is inferred to be x = 12, although x = 6 cannot be ruled out. The "Asian palmate" clade, the largest of the three major clades of core Araliaceae, is primarily characterized by polyploidy, although several genera have sometimes been regarded as evolutionarily "primitive". By contrast, Aralia, Panax, and Polyscias (representing other major clades within the family) include species with both diploids and tetraploids. Four genera recently segregated from core Araliaceae (Apiopetalum, Delarbrea, Myodocarpus, and Pseudosciadium) are reported as n = 12. The formerly apiaceous Hydrocotyle (now placed in Araliaceae) is best interpreted as x = 12, although some aneuploid species may exist with x = 9. Hydrocotyle also exhibits extensive variation in ploidal level. Within Araliaceae, chromosomal variation is largely related to ploidal level, with relatively few cases of aneuploidy, such as those documented in Panax ginseng and Hydrocotyle. The available data are largely consistent with the hypothesis that the basic chromosome number of Apiales is x = 6.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Botany, The Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, Illinois 60605, U.S.A. 2: Department of Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University, P.O. Box 842102, Richmond, Virginia 23284, U.S.A.

Publication date: November 1, 2004


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