First Phylogeny of Bitterbush Family, Picramniaceae (Picramniales)

Plants (Basel). 2020 Feb 21;9(2):284. doi: 10.3390/plants9020284.


Picramniaceae is the only member of Picramniales which is sister to the clade (Sapindales (Huerteales (Malvales, Brassicales))) in the rosidsmalvids. Not much is known about most aspects of their ecology, geography, and morphology. The family is restricted to American tropics. Picramniaceae representatives are rich in secondary metabolites; some species are known to be important for pharmaceutical purposes. Traditionally, Picramniaceae was classified as a subfamily of Simaroubaceae, but from 1995 on, it has been segregated containing two genera, Picramnia and Alvaradoa, with the recent addition of a third genus, Nothotalisia, described in 2011. Only a few species of the family have been the subject of DNA-related research, and fewer than half of the species have been included in morphological phylogenetic analyses. It is clear that Picramniaceae remains a largely under-researched plant group. Here we present the first molecular phylogenetic tree of the group, based on both chloroplast and nuclear markers, widely adopted in the plant DNA barcoding. The main findings are: The family and its genera are monophyletic and Picramnia is sister to two other genera; some clades corroborate previous assumptions of relationships made on a morphological or geographical basis, while most parts of the molecular topology suggest high levels of homoplasy in the morphological evolution of Picramnia.

Keywords: Alvaradoa; ITS; Nothotalisia; Picramnia; Sapindales; rbcL; rosids; trnL-F.