Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 126, Issue 3, pp 363–371 | Cite as

Phylogenetic relationship and molecular taxonomy of African grasses of the genus Panicum inferred from four chloroplast DNA-barcodes and nuclear gene sequences

  • Tanja Zimmermann
  • Gaëlle Bocksberger
  • Wolfgang Brüggemann
  • Thomas BerberichEmail author
Regular paper


The genus Panicum s.l. comprises about 450 grass species in which the C4 and the C3 metabolic pathways of photosynthesis are realized. In the West African savannah, Panicum spp. and closely related taxa dominate the landscape, with species differentially adapted to drought conditions. We obtained four chloroplast DNA barcode sequences, rbcL, matK, ndhF and trnH-psbA intergenic region, for nine Panicum spp. with a focus on West African species, and we performed maximum likelihood analysis to infer their phylogenetic relationship. Furthermore the phylogenetic placement of five newly sequenced taxa was achieved using a published phylogeny of more than 300 Panicoids based on ndhF sequences. The comparison of the resulting phylogenetic tree constructed from a combination of all four barcode sequences with the one based on rbcL and matK showed that the latter combination of the two, is sufficient for the analysis. A tree constructed from amino acid sequences derived from isolated cDNAs of the nucleus-encoded phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase displayed a similar topology. All ppc-sequences could be annotated to either ppc-B2 or ppc-aR. Moreover the inclusion of the West African Panicum species in an extensive dataset of Panicoids supports the proposition that within the subtribe Panicinae only the NAD-malic enzyme type of C4 photosynthesis is present.


DNA-barcode ndhF Panicum Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase Phylogeny 



The present study was funded by the research funding programme “LOEWE—Landes-Offensive zur Entwicklung Wissenschaftlich-ökonomischer Exzellenz” of Hesse’s Ministry of Higher Education, Research, and the Arts and the Stiftung Polytechnische Gesellschaft Frankfurt am Main. We greatly appreciate valuable comments of one anonymous reviewer to improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 815 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (TIFF 792 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanja Zimmermann
    • 2
  • Gaëlle Bocksberger
    • 1
    • 3
  • Wolfgang Brüggemann
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas Berberich
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)FrankfurtGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Ecology, Evolution and DiversityGoethe-UniversityFrankfurtGermany
  3. 3.Department of Botany and Molecular EvolutionSenckenberg Research InstituteFrankfurtGermany

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