Molecular phylogeny of the genus Philodendron (Araceae): delimitation and infrageneric classification

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2008
Authors:Gauthier, M. - P. L., Barabé, D., Bruneau A.
Keywords:external transcribed spacer (ETS), Homalomena, internal transcribed spacer (ITS), morphology, rpl16 intron

The genus Philodendron (Araceae) is a large neotropical group whose classification remains unclear. Previous classifications are based on morphological characters, mainly from the inflorescence, flower and leaf shape. The classification by Krause, with few modifications, is still the most commonly used system. To examine phylogenetic relationships in the genus, two ribosomal DNA nuclear markers, internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and external transcribed spacer (ETS), and the chloroplast intron rpl16, were sequenced and analysed for more than 80 species of Philodendron and its close relative Homalomena. According to the resulting phylogeny, the genus Homalomena may be paraphyletic to the genus Philodendron. The inclusion of the American Homalomena species within the genus Philodendron might resolve this taxonomic problem. All three subgenera of Philodendron were revealed as monophyletic. Below the subgeneric level, the groups obtained in our phylogeny globally correspond to sections recognized in previous classifications. Among the morphological characters used by previous taxonomists to build their classifications, and which we optimized onto one of the most parsimonious trees, most characters were found to be homoplasious. However, leaf shape, characteristics of the sterile zone on the spadix and venation patterns are useful for delimiting subgenera and sections within the genus.

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