Molecular Systematics of Plants

pp 117-150

Intraspecific Chloroplast DNA Variation: Systematic and Phylogenetic Implications

  • Douglas E. Soltis
  • , Pamela S. Soltis
  • , Brook G. Milligan

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Systematists have long sought methodologies that would facilitate phylogenetic reconstruction based on at most a few representative collections per species. As a result of their perceived invariance within species, molecular techniques have become popular tools. Further study, however, has often revealed additional intraspecific variation that must be considered in systematic studies. For example, during the 1960s and 1970s, flavonoid chemistry emerged as the tool of choice. Later, detailed investigations of single species proved that, for many plant groups, flavonoids were much more variable than originally thought and were therefore less useful (reviewed in Bohm, 1987). In contrast, the presence of intraspecific protein variation detected by electrophoresis has long been recognized and so has never been used extensively by plant systematists. An insightful discussion of this is given by Crawford (1989).