Phylogeny of the Cucurbitales based on DNA sequences of nine loci from three genomes: implications for morphological and sexual system evolution

Li-Bing Zhang, Mark P Simmons, Alexander Kocyan, Susanne S Renner
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 2006, 39 (2): 305-22
The Cucurbitales are a clade of rosids with a worldwide distribution and a striking heterogeneity in species diversity among its seven family members: the Anisophylleaceae (29-40 species), Begoniaceae (1400 spp.), Coriariaceae (15 spp.), Corynocarpaceae (6 spp.), Cucurbitaceae (800 spp.), Datiscaceae (2 spp.), and Tetramelaceae (2 spp.). Most Cucurbitales have unisexual flowers, and species are monoecious, dioecious, andromonoecious, or androdioecious. To resolve interfamilial relationships within the order and to polarize morphological character evolution, especially of flower sexual systems, we sequenced nine plastids (atpB, matK, ndhF, rbcL, the trnL-F region, and the rpl20-rps12 spacer), nuclear (18S and 26S rDNA), and mitochondrial (nad1 b/c intron) genes (together approximately 12,000 bp) of 26 representatives of the seven families plus eight outgroup taxa from six other orders of the Eurosids I. Cucurbitales are strongly supported as monophyletic and are closest to Fagales, albeit with moderate support; both together are sister to Rosales. The deepest split in the Cucurbitales is that between the Anisophylleaceae and the remaining families; next is a clade of Corynocarpaceae and Coriariaceae, followed by Cucurbitaceae, which are sister to a clade of Begoniaceae, Datiscaceae, and Tetramelaceae. Based on this topology, stipulate leaves, inferior ovaries, parietal placentation, and one-seeded fruits are inferred as ancestral in Cucurbitales; exstipulate leaves, superior ovaries, apical placentation, and many-seeded fruits evolved within the order. Bisexual flowers are reconstructed as ancestral, but dioecy appears to have evolved already in the common ancestor of Begoniaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Datiscaceae, and Tetramelaceae, and then to have been lost repeatedly in Begoniaceae and Cucurbitaceae. Both instances of androdioecy (Datisca glomerata and Schizopepon bryoniifolius) evolved from dioecious ancestors, corroborating recent hypotheses about androdioecy often evolving from dioecy.

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