Plastid and nuclear DNA markers reveal intricate relationships at subfamilial and tribal levels in the soapberry family (Sapindaceae).

  • publication
  • 01-05-2009

Buerki S, Forest F, Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Callmander MW, Nylander JA, Harrington M, Sanmartín I, Küpfer P, Alvarez N. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 2009 May;51(2):238-58. 10.1016/j.ympev.2009.01.012.

The economically important soapberry family (Sapindaceae) comprises about 1900 species mainly found in the tropical regions of the world, with only a few genera being restricted to temperate areas. The infrafamilial classification of the Sapindaceae and its relationships to the closely related Aceraceae and Hippocastanaceae - which have now been included in an expanded definition of Sapindaceae (i.e., subfamily Hippocastanoideae) - have been debated for decades. Here we present a phylogenetic analysis of Sapindaceae based on eight DNA sequence regions from the plastid and nuclear genomes and including 85 of the 141 genera defined within the family. Our study comprises 997 new sequences of Sapindaceae from 152 specimens. Despite presenting 18.6% of missing data our complete data set produced a topology fully congruent with the one obtained from a subset without missing data, but including fewer markers. The use of additional information therefore led to a consistent result in the relative position of clades and allowed the definition of a new phylogenetic hypothesis. Our results confirm a high level of paraphyly and polyphyly at the subfamilial and tribal levels and even contest the monophyletic status of several genera. Our study confirms that the Chinese monotypic genus Xanthoceras is sister to the rest of the family, in which subfamily Hippocastanoideae is sister to a clade comprising subfamilies Dodonaeoideae and Sapindoideae. On the basis of the strong support demonstrated in Sapindoideae, Dodonaeoideae and Hippocastanoideae as well as in 14 subclades, we propose and discuss informal groupings as basis for a new classification of Sapindaceae.

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