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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2001 Jun;19(3):387-408.

Phylogeny and biogeography of the flowering plant genus Styrax (Styracaceae) based on chloroplast DNA restriction sites and DNA sequences of the internal transcribed spacer region.

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Department of Botany and Osher Foundation Laboratory for Molecular Systematics, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California 94118, USA.


Phylogenetic relationships within the flowering plant genus Styrax were investigated with DNA sequence data from the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA) and with chloroplast DNA restriction site data from the genes trnK, rpoC1, and rpoC2. The data sets from each genome were analyzed separately and in combination with parsimony methods. The results strongly support the monophyly of each of the four series of the genus but provide little phylogenetic resolution among them. Reticulate evolution may at least partly explain discordance between the molecular phylogenetic estimates and a prior morphological estimate within series Cyrta. The historical biogeography of the genus was inferred with unweighted parsimony character optimization of trees recovered from a combined ITS and morphological data set, after a series of combinability tests for data set congruence was conducted. The results are consistent with the fossil record in supporting a Eurasian origin of Styrax. The nested phylogenetic position of the South American members of the genus within those from southern North America and Eurasia suggests that the boreotropics hypothesis best explains the amphi-Pacific tropical disjunct distribution occurring within section Valvatae. The pattern of relationship recovered among the species of section Styrax ((western North America + western Eurasia) (eastern North America + eastern Eurasia)) is rare among north-temperate Tertiary forest relicts. The monophyly of the group of species from western North America and western Eurasia provides qualified support for the Madrean-Tethyan hypothesis, which posits a Tertiary floristic connection among the semiarid regions in which these taxa occur. A single vicariance event between eastern Asia and eastern North America accounts for the pattern of relationship among intercontinental disjuncts in series Cyrta.

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