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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2007 Nov;45(2):547-63. Epub 2007 Jun 16.

Phylogenetic and evolutionary implications of complete chloroplast genome sequences of four early-diverging angiosperms: Buxus (Buxaceae), Chloranthus (Chloranthaceae), Dioscorea (Dioscoreaceae), and Illicium (Schisandraceae).

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Section of Integrative Biology and Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Biological Laboratories 404, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


We have determined the complete chloroplast genome sequences of four early-diverging lineages of angiosperms, Buxus (Buxaceae), Chloranthus (Chloranthaceae), Dioscorea (Dioscoreaceae), and Illicium (Schisandraceae), to examine the organization and evolution of plastid genomes and to estimate phylogenetic relationships among angiosperms. For the most part, the organization of these plastid genomes is quite similar to the ancestral angiosperm plastid genome with a few notable exceptions. Dioscorea has lost one protein-coding gene, rps16; this gene loss has also happened independently in four other land plant lineages, liverworts, conifers, Populus, and legumes. There has also been a small expansion of the inverted repeat (IR) in Dioscorea that has duplicated trnH-GUG. This event has also occurred multiple times in angiosperms, including in monocots, and in the two basal angiosperms Nuphar and Drimys. The Illicium chloroplast genome is unusual by having a 10 kb contraction of the IR. The four taxa sequenced represent key groups in resolving phylogenetic relationships among angiosperms. Illicium is one of the basal angiosperms in the Austrobaileyales, Chloranthus (Chloranthales) remains unplaced in angiosperm classifications, and Buxus and Dioscorea are early-diverging eudicots and monocots, respectively. We have used sequences for 61 shared protein-coding genes from these four genomes and combined them with sequences from 35 other genomes to estimate phylogenetic relationships using parsimony, likelihood, and Bayesian methods. There is strong congruence among the trees generated by the three methods, and most nodes have high levels of support. The results indicate that Amborella alone is sister to the remaining angiosperms; the Nymphaeales represent the next-diverging clade followed by Illicium; Chloranthus is sister to the magnoliids and together this group is sister to a large clade that includes eudicots and monocots; and Dioscorea represents an early-diverging lineage of monocots just internal to Acorus.

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