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Am J Bot. 1999 Aug;86(8):1168-81.

Phylogeny and evolution of the Betulaceae as inferred from DNA sequences, morphology, and paleobotany.

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Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiangshan, Beijing 100093, People's Republic of China; and.


Phylogeny of the Betulaceae is assessed on the basis of rbcL, ITS, and morphological data. Based upon 26 rbcL sequences representing most "higher" hamamelid families, the Betulaceae are monophyletic, with Casuarinaceae as its sister group, regardless of whether the outgroup is Cunoniaceae, Cercidiphyllaceae, Hamamelidaceae, or Nothofagus. Within the Betulaceae, two sister clades are evident, corresponding to the subfamilies Betuloideae and Coryloideae. However, with only 13 phylogenetically informative sites, the rbcL sequences provide limited intra-subfamilial resolution. Internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences provided 96 phylogenetically informative sites from 491 aligned sites resulting in a single most parsimonious tree of 374 steps (consistency index = 0.791) with two major lineages corresponding to the two traditional subfamilies: Betuloideae (Alnus, Betula) and Coryloideae (Corylus, Ostryopsis, Carpinus, Ostrya). This arrangement is mostly consistent with those from rbcL and morphology and is greatly reinforced by analyses with the three data sets combined. In the Coryloideae, the Ostryopsis-Carpinus-Ostrya clade is well supported, with Corylus as its sister group. The sister-group relationship between Ostryopsis and the Carpinus-Ostrya clade is well supported by ITS, rbcL, and morphological data. Phylogenetic relationships among the extant genera deduced by these analyses are compatible with inferences from ecological evolution and the extensive fossil record.

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