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Evolutionary inferences from non-monophyly on molecular trees

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Abstract:

Traditional taxa that are non-monophyletic (paraphyletic or polyphyletic) on a molecular phylogenetic tree may be interpreted as surviving ancestors that are evolutionarily static in expressed traits but accumulating DNA changes used to track genetic continuity. In cases in which re-evolution (convergence) of such taxa is deemed improbable, non-monophyly may be used to infer evolutionary trees of virtual fossils reflecting macroevolution. A taxon tree or Besseyan cactus of the family Pottiaceae (Bryophyta) is presented as an example. Non-monophyly may be evolutionarily informative at the taxon level in the same way synapomorphies are phylogenetically informative at the molecular trait level.

Keywords: EVOLUTION; MACROEVOLUTION; MOLECULAR SYSTEMATICS; MORPHOLOGY; POTTIACEAE; TAXON TREE; VIRTUAL FOSSIL

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Missouri Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, Missouri 63166-0299 U.S.A.;, Email: richard.zander@mobot.org

Publication date: 2008-11-01

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