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Melaleuca revisited: cpDNA and morphological data confirm that Melaleuca L. (Myrtaceae) is not monophyletic

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With about 335 species, the tribe Melaleuceae comprises a major lineage within the Australian Myrtaceae. Here we investigate relationships within Melaleuceae using cpDNA sequences (ndhF) and 27 morphological characters. We find strong evidence for the non-monophyly of Melaleuca, with all other currently recognized genera of Melaleuceae (Beaufortia, Calothamnus, Conothamnus, Eremaea, Lamarchea, Petraeomyrtus, Phymatocarpus, Regelia) falling within that genus. Our findings are broadly consistent with previous studies using nuclear ITS DNA sequence data; however, the cpDNA phylogeny estimate is more resolved and has higher support for major nodes. Melaleuceae is found to comprise three major clades, each containing species of Melaleuca and each with good support. The M. leucadendra (broad-leaf paper-barks), M. uncinata, M. pungens and M. acacioides groups, New Caledonian callistemons, and all other currently recognized genera of Melaleuceae form one clade. Australian Callistemon species, which have been synonymised recently with Melaleuca, cluster within a second clade of Melaleuca that includes the M. fulgens, M. laxiflora and M. ordinifolia groups, and some members of the M. lanceolata and M. cuticularis groups. A third clade includes other members of the M. lanceolata and M. cuticularis groups, M. foliolosa and the M. huegelii group. No morphological support or diagnostic synapomorphies are identified for any of these clades. Together with previous studies, our findings indicate that the circumscription of Melaleuca, and the generic status of other genera within Melaleuceae, is poorly supported, and we propose that all genera within the Melaleuceae are synonymised with Melaleuca.
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Keywords: AUSTRALIA; CALLISTEMON; NDHF; PAPER-BARK; PARAPHYLY; TEA-TREE

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The Australian National University, Research School of Biology, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia, The University of Queensland, School of Biological Sciences, Brisbane QLD, 4072, Australia;, Email: [email protected] 2: Australian National Herbarium, CSIRO Plant Industry, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia 3: The Australian National University, Research School of Biology, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia 4: The Australian National University, Research School of Biology, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia, The University of Queensland, School of Biological Sciences, Brisbane QLD, 4072, Australia

Publication date: 01 June 2010

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