Phylogenetics of Miscanthus, Saccharum and related genera (Saccharinae, Andropogoneae, Poaceae) based on DNA sequences from ITS nuclear ribosomal DNA and plastid trnL intron and trnL-F intergenic spacers
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DNA sequences were used to assess the monophyly and inter-relationships of Miscanthus, Saccharum and related genera in the Saccharum complex. Three DNA regions were sequenced, including the trnL intron and the trnL-F intergenic spacer of the plastid genome and the ITS region of nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA). Because it was more variable, the ITS region proved most suitable for phylogenetic reconstruction at this level, and the results indicate that Miscanthus s.l. and Saccharum s.l. are polyphyletic. A set of species from Saccharum section Ripidium (clade a) do not group closely with any members of Saccharum s.l.. A number of Miscanthus species from eastern or south-eastern Asia represent a monophyletic group with a basic chromosome number of 19 (clade b), but the other species from Africa and the Himalayas are clearly excluded. There is support for a monophyletic Saccharum s.s. clade including S. officinarum and S. spontaneum that is sister to Miscanthus s.s (clade c). There is no evidence to support the division of some Saccharum s.l. into the genera currently known as Erianthus and Narenga. Saccharum contortum (=Erianthus contortus), S. narenga (=Narenga porphyrocoma) and Erianthus rockii, group more closely with Miscanthus fuscus, a species from the Himalayas and also with the African Miscanthus s.l. species (=Miscanthidium, clade d).
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