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Am J Bot. 2002 Nov;89(11):1809-17. doi: 10.3732/ajb.89.11.1809.

Molecular data place Hydnoraceae with Aristolochiaceae.

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Department of Plant Biology and Center for Systematic Biology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois 62901-6509 USA;


Utilization of molecular phylogenetic information over the past decade has resulted in clarification of the position of most angiosperms. In contrast, the position of the holoparasitic family Hydnoraceae has remained controversial. To address the question of phylogenetic position of Hydnoraceae among angiosperms, nuclear SSU and LSU rDNA and mitochondrial atp1 and matR sequences were obtained for Hydnora and Prosopanche. These sequences were used in combined analyses that included the above four genes as well as chloroplast rbcL and atpB (these plastid genes are missing in Hydnoraceae and were hence coded as missing). Three data sets were analyzed using maximum parsimony: (1) three genes with 461 taxa; (2) five genes with 77 taxa; and (3) six genes with 38 taxa. Analyses of separate and combined data partitions support the monophyly of Hydnoraceae and the association of that clade with Aristolochiaceae sensu lato (s.l.) (including Lactoridaceae). The latter clade is sister to Piperaceae and Saururaceae. Despite over 11 kilobases (kb) of sequence data, relationships within Aristolochiaceae s.l. remain unresolved, thus it cannot yet be determined whether Aristolochiaceae, Hydnoraceae, and Lactoridaceae should be classified as distinct families. In contrast to most traditional classifications, molecular phylogenetic analyses do not suggest a close relationship between Hydnoraceae and Rafflesiaceae. A number of morphological features is shared by Hydnoraceae and Aristolochiaceae; however, a more resolved phylogeny is required to determine whether these represent synapomorphies or independent acquisitions.

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