Untangling the Phylogeny of Neotropical Lianas (Bignonieae, Bignoniaceae)

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American Journal of Botany


The tribe Bignonieae (Bignoniaceae) is a large and morphologically diverse clade of neotropical lianas. Despite being a conspicuous component of the neotropical flora, the systematics of the tribe has remained uncertain due to confusing patterns of morphological variation within the group. Chloroplast (ndhF) and nuclear (PepC) DNA sequences were used here to reconstruct the phylogeny of Bignonieae. Individual analyses of ndhF and PepC were highly similar to one another, yet localized differences in the placement of six species suggests some conflict between data sets. Combined analyses result in trees that are consistent with those from the individual analyses and provide greater support for the suggested relationships. This phylogeny provides important new insights into the systematics of the tribe. It identifies 21 strongly supported species groups, eight of which broadly correspond to currently recognized genera. In addition, each of these 21 species groups is supported by morphological synapomorphies. The consistency between morphological and molecular data suggests that the current phylogeny provides a solid framework for a formal revision of the generic-level classification and for addressing other aspects of the biology of Bignonieae.

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