Phylogeny reconstruction in the Caesalpinieae grade (Leguminosae) based on duplicated copies of the sucrose synthase gene and plastid markers

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2012 Oct;65(1):149-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.05.035. Epub 2012 Jun 12.


The Caesalpinieae grade (Leguminosae) forms a morphologically and ecologically diverse group of mostly tropical tree species with a complex evolutionary history. This grade comprises several distinct lineages, but the exact delimitation of the group relative to subfamily Mimosoideae and other members of subfamily Caesalpinioideae, as well as phylogenetic relationships among the lineages are uncertain. With the aim of better resolving phylogenetic relationships within the Caesalpinieae grade, we investigated the utility of several nuclear markers developed from genomic studies in the Papilionoideae. We cloned and sequenced the low copy nuclear gene sucrose synthase (SUSY) and combined the data with plastid trnL and matK sequences. SUSY has two paralogs in the Caesalpinieae grade and in the Mimosoideae, but occurs as a single copy in all other legumes tested. Bayesian and maximum likelihood phylogenetic analyses suggest the two nuclear markers are congruent with plastid DNA data. The Caesalpinieae grade is divided into four well-supported clades (Cassia, Caesalpinia, Tachigali and Peltophorum clades), a poorly supported clade of Dimorphandra Group genera, and two paraphyletic groups, one with other Dimorphandra Group genera and the other comprising genera previously recognized as the Umtiza clade. A selection analysis of the paralogs, using selection models from PAML, suggests that SUSY genes are subjected to a purifying selection. One of the SUSY paralogs, under slightly stronger positive selection, may be undergoing subfunctionalization. The low copy SUSY gene is useful for phylogeny reconstruction in the Caesalpinieae despite the presence of duplicate copies. This study confirms that the Caesalpinieae grade is an artificial group, and highlights the need for further analyses of lineages at the base of the Mimosoideae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • DNA, Chloroplast / genetics
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • Fabaceae / classification*
  • Fabaceae / genetics
  • Glucosyltransferases / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phylogeny*
  • Plastids / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Chloroplast
  • DNA, Plant
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • sucrose synthase