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, 90 (10), 1433-45

A Phylogenetic Hypothesis for the Aizoaceae (Caryophyllales) Based on Four Plastid DNA Regions


A Phylogenetic Hypothesis for the Aizoaceae (Caryophyllales) Based on Four Plastid DNA Regions

Cornelia Klak et al. Am J Bot.


The Aizoaceae is the largest family of leaf succulent plants, and most of its species are endemic to southern Africa. To evaluate subfamilial, generic, and tribal relationships, we produced two plastid DNA data sets for 91 species of Aizoaceae and four outgroups: rps16 intron and the trnL-F gene region (both the trnL intron and the trnL-F intergenic spacer). In addition, we generated two further plastid data sets for 56 taxa restricted to members of the Ruschioideae using the atpB-rbcL and the psbA-trnH intergenic spacers. In the combined tree of the rps16 intron and trnL-F gene region, three of the currently recognized subfamilies (Sesuvioideae, Mesembryanthemoideae, and Ruschioideae) are each strongly supported monophyletic groups. The subfamily Tetragonioideae is polyphyletic, with Tribulocarpus as sister to the Sesuvioideae and Tetragonia embedded in the Aizooideae. Our study showed that the group consisting of the Sesuvioideae, Aizooideae, and Tetragonioideae does not form a monophyletic entity. Therefore, it cannot be recognized as a separate family in order to accommodate the frequently used concept of the Mesembryanthemaceae or "Mesembryanthema," in which the subfamilies Mesembryanthemoideae and Ruschioideae are included. We also found that several genera within the Mesembryanthemoideae (Mesembryanthemum, Phyllobolus) are not monophyletic. Within the Ruschioideae, our study retrieved four major clades. However, even in the combined analysis of all four plastid gene regions, relationships within the largest of these four clades remain unresolved. The few nucleotide substitutions that exist among taxa of this clade point to a rapid and recent diversification within the arid winter rainfall area of southern Africa. We propose a revised classification for the Aizoaceae.

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