The temperate herbaceous tribes Loteae and Coronilleae have traditionally been regarded as taxonomically distinct entities. More recent morphological assessments, however, have challenged this view and suggest combining the two tribes under Loteae. Two key features used to distinguish the Coronilleae from Loteae include jointed fruits and branched root nodules. We evaluate the taxonomic utility of these characters using information derived from phylogenetic analyses of the internal transcribed spacers ITS1 + 2, and the intervening 5.8S region of nuclear ribosomal DNA. Results from this study show that neither the Loteae nor Coronilleae form individual monophyletic groups, and that key fruit and root nodule characters used to distinguish the Coronilleae are homoplastic. Given these data, we support the recognition of a single tribe, Loteae. We also find that Lotus, the largest and most morphologically complex genus in either tribe, is not monophyletic. Rather, it consists of two geographically distinct lineages, Old and New World, each of which are more closely related to other Loteae genera: Old World Lotus are more closely related to Old World Anthyllis, while New World Lotus show closer affinities to Old World Coronilla. These data also have important implications for the biogeography of New World Lotus: Equally most parsimonious reconstructions suggest a complex scenario of intemontinental dispersals that involve not only Old World Lotus but Coronilla as well.
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science