, Volume 221, Issue 1-2, pp 89-105

Generic delimitation and phylogeny of theCarduncellus-Carthamus complex (Asteraceae) based on ITS sequences

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Abstract

Within the Mediterranean complexCarduncellus-Carthamus, taxonomic classification has proven problematic. Numerous attempts to clarify the relative systematic boundaries have included splittingCarduncellus andCarthamus into several genera, but none of these proposed classifications have been generally accepted. For a comprehensive resolution of the relationships within this group, we used sequences of the Internal Transcribed Spacers (ITS) of nuclear ribosomal DNA. The results indicate that the complex should be classified into four genera:Carduncellus, Carthamus, Femeniasia andPhonus. The relationship between the western group (Carduncellus, Femeniasia andPhonus) and the eastern genusCarthamus are not resolved by analysis of ITS sequences, but the two groups are probably not close relatives. The ITS classifications corresponded with biogeography and less with morphological characters, which have also been the main source of confusion in traditional classifications. Most of the unusual morphological features in theCarduncellus-Carthamus complex appear to be reversals to ancestral character states.