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, 100 (5), 916-29

Phylogenetic Relationships and Character Evolution Analysis of Saxifragales Using a Supermatrix Approach


Phylogenetic Relationships and Character Evolution Analysis of Saxifragales Using a Supermatrix Approach

Douglas E Soltis et al. Am J Bot.


Premise of the study: We sought novel evolutionary insights for the highly diverse Saxifragales by constructing a large phylogenetic tree encompassing 36.8% of the species-level biodiversity. •

Methods: We built a phylogenetic tree for 909 species of Saxifragales and used this hypothesis to examine character evolution for annual or perennial habit, woody or herbaceous habit, ovary position, petal number, carpel number, and stamen to petal ratio. We employed likelihood approaches to investigate the effect of habit and life history on speciation and extinction within this clade. •

Key results: Two major shifts occurred from a woody ancestor to the herbaceous habit, with multiple secondary changes from herbaceous to woody. Transitions among superior, subinferior, and inferior ovaries appear equiprobable. A major increase in petal number is correlated with a large increase in carpel number; these increases have co-occurred multiple times in Crassulaceae. Perennial or woody lineages have higher rates of speciation than annual or herbaceous ones, but higher probabilities of extinction offset these differences. Hence, net diversification rates are highest for annual, herbaceous lineages and lowest for woody perennials. The shift from annuality to perenniality in herbaceous taxa is frequent. Conversely, woody perennial lineages to woody annual transitions are infrequent; if they occur, the woody annual state is left immediately. •

Conclusions: The large tree provides new insights into character evolution that are not obvious with smaller trees. Our results indicate that in some cases the evolution of angiosperms might be conditioned by constraints that have been so far overlooked.

Keywords: Saxifragales; ancestral state reconstruction; diversification analyses; large phylogenies.

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