A subgeneric classification of Selaginella (Selaginellaceae)

Am J Bot. 2016 Dec;103(12):2160-2169. doi: 10.3732/ajb.1600288. Epub 2016 Dec 20.


Premise of the study: The lycophyte family Selaginellaceae includes approximately 750 herbaceous species worldwide, with the main species richness in the tropics and subtropics. We recently presented a phylogenetic analysis of Selaginellaceae based on DNA sequence data and, with the phylogeny as a framework, the study discussed the character evolution of the group focusing on gross morphology. Here we translate these findings into a new classification.

Methods: To present a robust and useful classification, we identified well-supported monophyletic groups from our previous phylogenetic analysis of 223 species, which together represent the diversity of the family with respect to morphology, taxonomy, and geographical distribution. Care was taken to choose groups with supporting morphology.

Key results: In this classification, we recognize a single genus Selaginella and seven subgenera: Selaginella, Rupestrae, Lepidophyllae, Gymnogynum, Exaltatae, Ericetorum, and Stachygynandrum. The subgenera are all well supported based on analysis of DNA sequence data and morphology. A key to the subgenera is presented.

Conclusions: Our new classification is based on a well-founded hypothesis of the evolutionary relationships of Selaginella, and each subgenus can be identified by a suite of morphological features, most of them possible to study in the field. Our intention is that the classification will be useful not only to experts in the field, but also to a broader audience.

Keywords: Selaginellaceae; classification; key; lycophytes; morphology; phylogeny; subgenera.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Leaves / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Leaves / classification
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Selaginellaceae / anatomy & histology
  • Selaginellaceae / classification*
  • Selaginellaceae / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA