Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 301, Issue 5, pp 1441–1453 | Cite as

ITS rDNA sequence comparisons resolve phylogenetic relationships in Orostachys subsection Appendiculatae (Crassulaceae)

  • Arthur Yu. Nikulin
  • Vyacheslav Yu. Nikulin
  • Svetlana B. Gonctharova
  • Andrey A. GontcharovEmail author
Original Article


Orostachys (Crassulaceae) is a small genus of succulent plants having a predominantly East Asian distribution. Recent DNA sequence comparisons revealed polyphyletic nature of the genus and found distant relationship between its infrageneric taxa. Here we present the first molecular phylogeny of Orostachys subsection Appendiculatae based on a large number of ITS rDNA sequences representing most currently recognized members of the subsection and utilizing secondary structure information. Ribosomal spacer was a highly informative marker and provided a phylogenetic signal sufficient to resolve relationships at different scales, from affinities between species to a fine geographic structure in broadly sampled species. It was also conservative enough to allow unambiguous alignment and construction of consensus secondary structure models for ITS1 and ITS2. These models displayed a number of molecular synapomorphies defining most lineages established in our analyses. We revealed a major split in the subsection placing three species, O. spinosa, O. japonica and O. chanetii, into a strongly supported clade to the exclusion of O. thyrsiflora. Phenotypically distinct monotypic genus Meterostachys was also resolved as a part of the subsection’s clade and showed affinity to O. thyrsiflora. Our data suggested that morphology-based species concept for O. thyrsiflora requires reassessment.


Crassulaceae Orostachys subsection Appendiculatae Meterostachys ITS rDNA Secondary structure Phylogeny 



We thank Shamil Abdullin, Viktor Bogatov, Roman Dudkin, Konstantin Kiselev, Yuri Ovchinnikov and Valentin Yakubov for sampling natural populations of O. spinosa; Marko Doboš for sharing his persona Orostachys collection and Sun Yan for assistance in sampling in Northern China. This study was supported by a RFBR grant (12-04-01379-a).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur Yu. Nikulin
    • 1
  • Vyacheslav Yu. Nikulin
    • 1
  • Svetlana B. Gonctharova
    • 2
  • Andrey A. Gontcharov
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Biology and Soil Science FEB RASVladivostokRussia
  2. 2.Botanical garden-institute FEB RASVladivostokRussia

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