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Am J Bot. 2001 Sep;88(9):1657-69.

Generic circumscription and relationships in the tribe Melanthieae (Liliales, Melanthiaceae), with emphasis on Zigadenus: evidence from ITS and trnL-F sequence data.

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  • 1Department of Botany, 2502 Plant Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-7271 USA;


The circumscription and relationships of genera within the tribe Melanthieae (29 representative taxa) were evaluated using parsimony analyses of ITS (nuclear ribosomal) and trnL-F (plastid) DNA sequence data, alone and in combination. Proposed new generic circumscriptions, strongly supported by the tree statistics and topologies in all analyses, are correlated with potential morphological synapomorphies at the proper level of universality. Based on the molecular cladograms, Stenanthium is biphyletic, and the traditional Zigadenus s.l. (sensu lato) is polyphyletic. Amianthium and Schoenocaulon are distinct entities; the Veratrum complex is conservatively treated as one large monophyletic genus (including Melanthium). Although some generic relationships are not highly resolved, the analyses provide strong support for Zigadenus glaberrimus as sister to the rest of the tribe, and Amianthium muscitoxicum as closely related to Veratrum s.l. As a result of these analyses, seven genera (some with novel circumscription) are recognized within the tribe Melanthieae: Amianthium, Anticlea, Schoenocaulon, Stenanthium, Toxicoscordion, Veratrum, and Zigadenus.

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