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J Mol Evol. 1990 Oct;31(4):294-301.

Phylogenetic relationships of the Santalales and relatives.

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Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801.


Determining relationships among parasitic angiosperms has often been difficult owing to frequent morphological reductions in floral and vegetative features. We report 18S (small-subunit) rRNA sequences for representative genera of three families within the Santalales (Olacaceae, Santalaceae, and Viscaceae) and six outgroup dicot families (Celastraceae, Cornaceae, Nyssaceae, Buxaceae, Apiaceae, and Araliaceae). Using Wagner parsimony analysis, one most parsimonious tree resulted that shows the Santalales to be a holophyletic taxon most closely related to Euonymus (Celastraceae). The santalalean taxa showed approximately 13% more transitional mutations than the group of seven other dicot species. This suggests a higher fixation rate for mutations in these organisms, possibly owing to a relaxation of selection pressures at the molecular level in parasitic vs nonparasitic plants. Outgroup relationships are generally in accord with current taxonomic classifications, such as the grouping of Nyssaceae and Cornaceae together (Cornales) and the grouping of Araliaceae with Apiaceae (Apiales). These data provide the first nucleotide sequences for any parasitic flowering plant and support the contention that rRNA sequence analysis can result in robust phylogenetic comparisons at the family level and above.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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