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Am J Bot. 2002 Feb;89(2):296-311. doi: 10.3732/ajb.89.2.296.

Phylogenetic relationships in the Gesnerioideae (Gesneriaceae) based on nrDNA ITS and cpDNA trnL-F and trnE-T spacer region sequences.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Systematics, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560 USA;


The Gesnerioideae includes most of the New World members of the Gesneriaceae family and is currently considered to include five tribes: Beslerieae, Episcieae, Gesnerieae, Gloxinieae, and Napeantheae. This study presents maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood phylogenetic analyses of nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer regions (ITS), and the chloroplast DNA trnL intron, trnL-trnF intergenic spacer region, and trnE-trnT intergenic spacer region sequences. The ITS and cpDNA data sets strongly support the monophyly of a Beslerieae/Napeantheae clade; an Episcieae clade; a Gesnerieae clade; a Gloxinieae clade minus Sinningia, Sinningia relatives, and Gloxinia sarmentiana; and a Sinningia/Paliavana/Vanhouttea clade. This is the first study to provide strong statistical support for these tribes/clades. These analyses suggest that Sinningia and relatives should be considered as a separate tribe. Additionally, generic relationships are explored, including the apparent polyphyly of Gloxinia. Chromosome number changes are minimized on the proposed phylogeny, with the exception of the n = 11 taxa of the Gloxinieae. Scaly rhizomes appear to have been derived once in the Gloxinieae sensu stricto. The number of derivations of the inferior ovary is unclear: either there was one derivation with a reversal to a superior ovary in the Episcieae, or there were multiple independent derivations of the inferior ovary.

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