Phylogenetic Incongruence: Window into Genome History and Molecular Evolution

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Abstract

The field of systematic biology has been revitalized and transformed during the last few decades by the confluence of phylogenetic thinking with ready access to the tools of molecular biology. Indeed, the title of this volume and the fact that it is already in its second edition offers ample testimony to the impact that molecular approaches have had on efforts to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of plants. Concomitant with the proliferation of molecular tools has been a growing awareness that reliance on a single data set may often result in insufficient phylogenetic resolution or misleading inferences. Accordingly, it is an increasingly widespread practice to apply multiple data sets to a common group of taxa. One of the consequences of analyzing multiple data sets is that the phylogenies inferred may differ from each other in one or more details. This phylogenetic incongruence is not rare; to the contrary, it is almost the rule rather than the exception, being evident to varying degrees.