Phylogenetic systematics and character evolution in the angiosperm family Haloragaceae

Am J Bot. 2007 Dec;94(12):2005-25. doi: 10.3732/ajb.94.12.2005.


The poorly known Haloragaceae R. Br. (Saxifragales) are highly diverse in habit (small trees to submerged aquatics) and labile in floral merosity (2-4), both uncommon among the core eudicots. This family has a cosmopolitan distribution, but taxonomic diversity is concentrated in Australia. An explicit phylogenetic approach has not previously been utilized to examine relationships or character evolution in this family. We used molecular evidence from nrDNA ITS and cpDNA trnK and matK regions under both Bayesian and parsimony analyses to address phylogenetic relationships. Combined molecular analyses defined a monophyletic Haloragaceae with the woody genera (Haloragodendron, Glischrocaryon) sister to the rest. Relationships among many genera were well resolved, with genera as currently delimited generally well supported, although there were notable exceptions; a new genus (Trihaloragis) is recognized, and the aquatic genus Meionectes is again distinct from Haloragis. Three new species combinations are also recognized. There are multiple (two or three) origins of the submerged aquatic habit in the family and potentially an intermediate reversal to the terrestrial habit, neither previously demonstrated in a core eudicot family using an explicit phylogenetic hypothesis. Ancestral character analyses suggest two origins of trimerous flowers and multiple reductions to dimerous flowers throughout Haloragaceae.