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Am J Bot. 2002 Apr;89(4):707-25. doi: 10.3732/ajb.89.4.707.

Rapid diversification of the cotton genus (Gossypium: Malvaceae) revealed by analysis of sixteen nuclear and chloroplast genes.

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  • 1Department of Botany, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011 USA;


Previous molecular phylogenetic studies have failed to resolve the branching order among the major cotton (Gossypium) lineages, and it has been unclear whether this reflects actual history (rapid radiation) or sampling properties of the genes evaluated. In this paper, we reconsider the phylogenetic relationships of diploid cotton genome groups using DNA sequences from 11 single-copy nuclear loci (10 293 base pairs [bp]), nuclear ribosomal DNA (695 bp), and four chloroplast loci (7370 bp). Results from individual loci and combined nuclear and chloroplast DNA partitions reveal that the cotton genome groups radiated in rapid succession following the formation of the genus. Maximum likelihood analysis of nuclear synonymous sites shows that this radiation occurred within a time span equivalent to 17% of the time since the separation of Gossypium from its nearest extant relatives in the genera Kokia and Gossypioides. Chloroplast and nuclear phylogenies differ significantly with respect to resolution of the basal divergence in the genus and to interrelationships among African cottons. This incongruence is due to limited character evolution in cpDNA and either previously unsuspected hybridization or unreliable phylogenetic performance of the cpDNA characters. This study highlights the necessity of using multiple, independent data sets for resolving phylogenetic relationships of rapidly diverged lineages.

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