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Molecular phylogenetics, character evolution and systematics of the genus Micranthes (Saxifragaceae)

Tkach, Natalia, Röser, Martin, Hoffmann, Matthias H.
Botanical journal of the Linnean Society 2015 v.178 no.1 pp. 47-66
DNA, Saxifraga, data collection, internal transcribed spacers, phylogeny
With c. 85 species, the genus Micranthes is among the larger genera of the Saxifragaceae. It is only distantly related to the morphologically similar genus Saxifraga, in which it has frequently been included as Saxifraga section Micranthes. To study the molecular evolution of Micranthes, we analysed nuclear ribosomal (internal transcribed spacer, ITS) and plastid (trnL–trnF) DNA sequences in a comprehensive set of taxa comprising c. 75% of the species. The molecular phylogenetic tree from the combined dataset revealed eight well‐supported clades of Micranthes. These clades agree in part with previously acknowledged subsections or series of Saxifraga section Micranthes. As these eight groups can also be delineated morphologically, we suggest that they should be recognized as sections of Micranthes. New relationships were also detected for some species and species groups, e.g. section Davuricae sister to sections Intermediae and Merkianae, and M. micranthidifolia as a member of section Micranthes. Species proposed to be excluded from the genus Micranthes for morphological reasons were resolved in the molecular tree in Saxifraga. Many morphological characters surveyed were homoplasious to varying extents. Micromorphological characters support comparatively well the clades in the phylogenetic tree. An updated nomenclature and a taxonomic conspectus of sections and species of Micranthes are provided. © 2015 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2015, 178, 47–66.