Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 218, Issue 3–4, pp 179–192 | Cite as

A molecular phylogeny of bryophytes based on nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrialnad5 gene

  • Susanne Beckert
  • Siegfried Steinhauser
  • Hermann Muhle
  • Volker Knoop


In contrast to animals, the slowly evolving mitochondrial nucleotide sequences of plants appear well suited to investigate phylogenetic relations between old taxonomic groups. Analysis ofnad5 gene sequences in 47 bryophytes, the living representatives of very early land plants, confirm this assessment. Statistically reliable phylogenetic trees are obtained with different mathematical approaches. A group I intron sequence conserved in thenad5 gene of all 30 mosses and 15 liverworts investigated supports a sister group relationship of the two classes. The intron sequence adds phylogenetic information for fine resolution on top of the conserved exon sequences down to the level of classically defined orders or families, respectively. This intron is not present in the hornwortsAnthoceros husnotii andA. punctatus. The results allow statements on diverging taxonomic interpretations and support the monophyly of the liverworts, mosses, Jungermanniidae, Marchantiidae and Bryidae, and allow recognition of subclasses like Hypnanae and Dicrananae. Among the mosses, the derived orders (subclass Bryidae) are confidently set apart from the Sphagnales, Andreaeales, Polytrichales and Tetraphidales with Buxbaumiales occupying a mediating position. Among the liverworts, full support is found for the classic separation of simple (jungermanniid) and complex thalloid (marchantiid) species with a strikingly low mitochondrial sequence divergence among the latter.

Key words

Bryophyta Mitochondria nad5 gene group I intron molecular phylogeny taxonomy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanne Beckert
    • 2
  • Siegfried Steinhauser
    • 2
  • Hermann Muhle
    • 1
  • Volker Knoop
    • 2
  1. 1.Allgemeine und SpezielleUniversität UlmUlmGermany
  2. 2.Allgemeine und Spezielle BotanikUniversität UlmUlmGermany

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