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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2007 Aug;44(2):553-77. Epub 2007 Jan 8.

A multi-locus chloroplast phylogeny for the Cucurbitaceae and its implications for character evolution and classification.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Ludwig Maximilians University, D-80638 Munich, Germany.


Cucurbitaceae contain c. 800 species in 130 genera and are among the economically most important families of plants. We inferred their phylogeny based on chloroplast DNA sequences from two genes, one intron, and two spacers (rbcL, matK, trnL, trnL-trnF, rpl20-rps12) obtained for 171 species in 123 genera. Molecular data weakly support the traditional subfamilies Cucurbitoideae (111 genera) and Nhandiroboideae (19 genera, 60 species), and recover most of the eleven tribes, but almost none of the subtribes. Indofevillea khasiana is sister to all other Cucurbitoideae, and the genera of Joliffieae plus a few Trichosantheae form a grade near the base of Cucurbitoideae. A newly discovered large clade consists of the ancestrally Asian genera Nothoalsomitra, Luffa, Gymnopetalum, Hodgsonia, Trichosanthes, and the New World tribe Sicyeae. Genera that are poly- or paraphyletic include Ampelosicyos, Cucumis, Ibervillea, Neoachmandra, Psiguria, Trichosanthes, and Xerosicyos. Flower characters, especially number of free styles, fusion of filaments and/or anthers, tendril type, and pollen size, exine, and aperture number correlate well with the chloroplast phylogeny, while petal and fruit characters as well as karyotype exhibit much evolutionary flexibility.

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