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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2005 Apr;35(1):85-101.

The phylogenetic history and biogeography of the frankincense and myrrh family (Burseraceae) based on nuclear and chloroplast sequence data.

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  • 1The University of Texas at Austin, Section of Integrative Biology and Plant Resources Center Austin, TX 78712, USA.


Generalized hypotheses for the vicariant, Gondwanan origin of pantropically distributed eudicotyledon families must be refined to accommodate recently revised dates that indicate major continental rifting events predate the evolution of many tricolpate angiosperm clades. Here, we use molecular phylogenies of an eudicotyledon family previously hypothesized to have a Gondwanan origin, the Burseraceae, to test this and other alternative biogeographical hypotheses in light of recalibrated geological events. Phylogenies based on nuclear and chloroplast data were reconstructed for 13 of the 18 genera (50 spp. total) of Burseraceae using parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian methods. Ages of all lineages were estimated using penalized likelihood and semiparametric rate smoothing [Bioinformatics 2003 (19) 301], which allows the user to calibrate phylogenies based on non-clock-like DNA sequence data with fossil information. Biogeographical hypotheses were tested by comparing ages of species and more inclusive lineages with their extant and most parsimonious ancestral distributions. Our data support a North American Paleocene origin for the Burseraceae followed by dispersal of ancestral lineages to eastern Laurasia and Southern Hemisphere continents.

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