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Molecular and morphological analysis of subfamily Alooideae (Asphodelaceae) and the inclusion of Chortolirion in Aloe

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Asphodelaceae subfam. Alooideae (Asparagales) currently comprises five genera, four of which are endemic to southern Africa. Despite their importance in commercial horticulture the evolutionary relationships among the genera are still incompletely understood. This study examines phylogenetic relationships in the subfamily using an expanded molecular sequence dataset from three plastid regions (matK, rbcLa, trnH-psbA) and the first subunit of the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS1). Sequence data were analysed using maximum parsimony and Bayesian statistics, and selected morphological traits were mapped onto the molecular phylogeny. Haworthia is confirmed as being polyphyletic, comprising three main clades that largely correlate with current subgeneric circumscriptions. Astroloba and Gasteria are evidently each monophyletic and sister respectively to Astroloba and H. subg. Robustipedunculares. Chortolirion is shown to be deeply nested within Aloe and is formally included in that genus. Aloe itself is clearly polyphyletic, with the dwarf species A. aristata allied to Haworthia subg. Robustipedunculares. The taxonomic implications of these findings are examined but branch support at critical lower nodes is insufficient at this stage to justify implementing major taxonomic changes.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: African Centre for DNA Barcoding, University of Johannesburg, P.O. Box 524 Auckland Park 2006, Johannesburg, South Africa;, Email: 2: Compton Herbarium, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Private Bag X7, Claremont 7735, South Africa, Research Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa 3: Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville 7535, Cape Town, South Africa 4: African Centre for DNA Barcoding, University of Johannesburg, P.O. Box 524 Auckland Park 2006, Johannesburg, South Africa 5: School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, Hants, SO16 7PX, U.K. 6: Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Biodiversitaet der Pflanzen, Maximus-von-Imhof Forum 2, 85354 Freising, Germany 7: International Barcode of Life Project, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada

Publication date: February 20, 2013


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