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Molecular delimitation of clades within New World species of the "spiny solanums" (Solanum subg. Leptostemonum)

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Solanum subg. Leptostemonum contains approximately 350–450 species, including the cultivated eggplant, S. melongena. Most species placed in this subgenus form a monophyletic group, the Leptostemonum clade, characterized by the presence of stellate hairs and prickles, leading to the common name of "spiny solanums". Here we present a phylogenetic analysis that circumscribes the major clades within the spiny solanums and examines the relationships among them, with an emphasis on New World species. Of particular interest is the clarification of the clade limits and species composition of groups that have not been well-sampled. We also increase sampling of taxa that have been previously analyzed in molecular studies, namely those in the Torva, Micracantha, and Erythrotrichum clades. These groups have convergent morphological characteristics that have challenged taxonomists, making classification difficult. Results from our study delimit 14 clades within the spiny solanums, including the newly designated Asterophorum, Gardneri, Sisymbriifolium, and Thomasiifolium clades. We also establish the placement of species not previously sampled, especially those endemic to Brazil. These results give an increased understanding of the evolution of the Leptostemonum clade by defining monophyletic groups within it and identify areas of the phylogenetic tree that remain unresolved and require further taxon sampling.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Utah, 257 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84112-0840, U.S.A. 2: Laboratório de Tecnologia Farmacêutica, Universidade Federal da Paraíba, Caixa Postal 5009, 58051-970 João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brasil

Publication date: 01 October 2011

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