An evaluation of taxonomic concepts of the widespread plant genus Aglaia and its allies across Wallace's Line (tribe Aglaieae, Meliaceae)

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2014 Apr:73:65-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2014.01.025. Epub 2014 Feb 2.


Similar to other species-rich taxa in the Indo-Australian Archipelago, taxonomy of the genus Aglaia (mahogany family, Meliaceae) remains problematic. This study aims to evaluate taxonomic concepts within Aglaia based on the largest dataset to-date. We analyzed sequences of 237 accessions of Aglaia and representatives of all other genera of the tribe Aglaieae, including nuclear ribosomal ITS, the trnL-trnF intron and intergenic spacer, the atpF intron and the petD region comprising the petB-petD spacer, the petD-5' exon and the petD intron (all but the first from the plastid genome). Our analyses were set both in maximum likelihood and Bayesian frameworks, which (1) supported paraphyly of Aglaia and Aphanamixis; (2) demonstrated polyphyly of previously described sections for Aglaia; and (3) suggested delimitation problems with 57% of the morphologically "variable species" and all "complex species". In general, there were more genetic entities than species described, which shows that the taxonomy of this group is more complex than has sometimes been previously assumed. For some species, morphological variation suggests the existence of more variants, subspecies or species within various taxa. Furthermore, our study detected additional phylogenetic entities that were geographically distinct, occurring on either side of Wallace's Line but not on both sides. The delineation of these inter-specific taxa needs further investigation by taking into account the morphological variation within and between populations across the entire distribution.

Keywords: Aphanamixis; Complex species; Phylogenetics; Sapindales; Southeast Asian floras.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aglaia / classification*
  • Aglaia / genetics*
  • Asia, Southeastern
  • Base Sequence
  • Bayes Theorem
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer / genetics
  • Introns / genetics
  • Meliaceae / classification*
  • Meliaceae / genetics*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Plant
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer