Evaluation of atpB Nucleotide Sequences for Phylogenetic Studies of Ferns and Other Pteridophytes

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American Journal of Botany



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Inferring basal relationships among vascular plants poses a major challenge to plant systematists. The divergence events that describe these relationships occurred long ago and considerable homoplasy has since accrued for both molecular and morphological characters. A potential solution is to examine phylogenetic analyses from multiple data sets. Here I present a new source of phylogenetic data for ferns and other pteridophytes. I sequenced the chloroplast gene atpB from 23 pteridophyte taxa and used maximum parsimony to infer relationships. A 588-bp region of the gene appeared to contain a statistically significant amount of phylogenetic signal and the resulting trees were largely congruent with similar analyses of nucleotide sequences from rbcL. However, a combined analysis of atpB plus rbcL produced a better resolved tree than did either data set alone. In the shortest trees, leptosporangiate ferns formed a monophyletic group. Also, I detected a well-supported clade of Psilotaceae (Psilotum and Tmesipteris) plus Ophioglossaceae (Ophioglossum and Botrychium). The demonstrated utility of atpB suggests that sequences from this gene should play a role in phylogenetic analyses that incorporate data from chloroplast genes, nuclear genes, morphology, and fossil data.

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