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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e24851. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024851. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

Towards resolving the complete fern tree of life.

Author information

  • Department of Biology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland. samile@utu.fi

Abstract

In the past two decades, molecular systematic studies have revolutionized our understanding of the evolutionary history of ferns. The availability of large molecular data sets together with efficient computer algorithms, now enables us to reconstruct evolutionary histories with previously unseen completeness. Here, the most comprehensive fern phylogeny to date, representing over one-fifth of the extant global fern diversity, is inferred based on four plastid genes. Parsimony and maximum-likelihood analyses provided a mostly congruent results and in general supported the prevailing view on the higher-level fern systematics. At a deep phylogenetic level, the position of horsetails depended on the optimality criteria chosen, with horsetails positioned as the sister group either of Marattiopsida-Polypodiopsida clade or of the Polypodiopsida. The analyses demonstrate the power of using a 'supermatrix' approach to resolve large-scale phylogenies and reveal questionable taxonomies. These results provide a valuable background for future research on fern systematics, ecology, biogeography and other evolutionary studies.

PMID:
22022365
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3192703
Free PMC Article
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