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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2006 Apr;9(2):99-103. Epub 2006 Feb 15.

Legume comparative genomics: progress in phylogenetics and phylogenomics.

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Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research, University of British Columbia, 6804 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver V6T 1Z4, Canada.


The legumes are the focus of numerous rapidly expanding genomic projects, all of which involve members of one part of the Leguminosae, the subfamily Papilionoideae. This subfamily is monophyletic, and recent studies concur on a series of clades within it that are well supported and have received informal names. These include the Cladrastis clade, the genistoids (including Lupinus), the mirbelioids, the dalbergioids (including Arachis), the millettioids (including Glycine and Phaseolus), and the hologalegina (galegoid) legumes, which comprise the robinioids (including Lotus) and the inverted repeat loss (IRL) clade (including Medicago and Pisum). The canavanine-accumulating legumes appear to fall into a single clade, consistent with the idea that the production of this toxic amino acid evolved only once. Recent advances in analytical techniques for dating phylogenies support an 'early explosion hypothesis', suggesting that much of the morphological diversity of the legume family evolved rapidly around 50-60 million years ago. Within the papilionoids, the divergence between Glycine and Medicago is estimated to have taken place around 54 million years ago. There is strong evidence for a palaeoduplication event that affected both Glycine (a millettioid) and Medicago (from the IRL clade). As more genomic data are forthcoming for Arachis, it will be possible to test whether this event extends to the dalbergioids.

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