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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2002 Nov;25(2):341-60.

Radiation in the Cape flora and the phylogeny of peacock irises Moraea (Iridaceae) based on four plastid DNA regions.

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Missouri Botanical Garden, PO Box 299, St Louis, Missouri 63166, USA.


Phylogenetic analyses of four plastid DNA regions, the rbcL exon, trnL intron, trnL-trnF intergenic spacer, and rps16 intron from each of 73 species in the African genus Moraea (Iridaceae: Irideae) including accessions of all major species clusters in the genus, show Moraea to be paraphyletic when Barnardiella, Galaxia, Hexaglottis, Homeria (all southern African), and Gynandriris (Eurasian as well) were recognized as separate genera. There are several small, isolated species clusters at the basal nodes of the tree that are all restricted to the winter-rainfall zone of southern Africa (the Greater Cape floral kingdom) and a few, highly derived, large species groups that have radiated extensively within the winter-rainfall zone. Mapping of floral traits shows that an Iris-type flower is ancestral in Moraea. Floral changes are associated with shifts in pollination systems, either from passive pollen deposition on long-tongued bees foraging for nectar to active pollen collection by female bees foraging for pollen, fly, or hopliine scarab beetle pollination. Dating the nodes of the phylogenetic tree using non-parametric rate smoothing with a calibration point derived from broad dating of the angiosperms indicates that the divergence between Moraea and its sister genus Ferraria occurred about 25 mya in the early Miocene. The early radiation of Moraea took place against a background of aridification and the spread of open habitats, such as desert, shrubland, and fynbos.

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