Phylogenetic evaluation of Xylothamia, Gundlachia, and related genera (Asteraceae, Astereae) based on ETS and ITS nrDNA sequence data

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Previous molecular investigations of the phylogenetic relationship for Xylothamia employed exemplar taxa and indicated its affiliation is either with the Gutierrezia or the Ericameria alliances. The present 3' ETS and ITS nrDNA gene phylogenies yielded the unexpected result that Xylothamia is polyphyletic. Species within its circumscription are placed into two well-supported evolutionary lineages with other genera of Astereae. Of nine species of Xylothamia, four species plus Gundlachia constitute one clade. The other five species are placed in a sister clade with several other genera including Amphiachyris, Bigelowia, Euthamia, Gutierrezia, and others. Except for X. johnstonii and X. palmeri, these five species of Xylothamia have little affinity for one another or for other genera in the same clade. Morphological similarities in foliar features between certain species in both lineages are possibly from a convergence resulting in adaptation to arid habitats. Such similarities were also the basis, in part, for their taxonomic treatment within Xylothamia or their earlier affiliation with Ericameria, which has similar features. The uncharacteristic leaf form in Xylothamia purpursii has a pattern of adaptation considerably different from its allies. Whether the Xylothamia-containing clades are related to Solidaginineae or represent an independently derived lineage remains equivocal because this outcome rested with the choice of data and optimality criteria.

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American journal of botany

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