Molecular phylogeny, radiation patterns and evolution of life-history traits in Ursinia (Anthemideae, Asteraceae)

Swelankomo, Nonkululeko (2008-12)

Thesis (MSc (Botany and Zoology))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.

Thesis

Sequence data from the Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) of the nuclear ribosomal DNA were used to study the phylogenetic relationships in the genus Ursinia Gaertn. (Asteraceae, Anthemideae) in the southern African region. Closely related genera, i.e. Cotula L., Osteospermum L. and Agoseris Raf., were used as outgroups. The study also included maximum parsimony and principal component analyses. The taxa within the genus Ursinia had previously been classified into two subgenera, Ursinia and Sphenogyne R.Br., mainly on the basis of distinct cypsela characters. The maximum parsimony, principal component and the phylogenetic analyses revealed two subgenera, corresponding to the existing subgeneric classification. Principal component analysis shows that the pappus, the number of pappus bristles and the colour of the cypsela are the most informative characters. However, the low number of phylogenetically informative characters of the ITS sequences, the poor resolution in the consensus tree, and low branch support values indicate that the ITS data contain weak phylogenetic signals. The low bootstrap values for many nodes suggest that one should be cautious in using the ITS region alone to make final conclusions about the origin and evolution of taxa. In maximum parsimony analysis, the RI, CI and bootstrap values are low; principal component analysis values are also low. Furthermore, there is a lack of resolution in subgenus Sphenogyne. In the literature, Ursinia is divided into seven series but they were not retrieved as monophyletic in this study, probably because of short branch lengths in the phylogeny. Further molecular data are therefore required to be able to support or reject the present classification. Maximum parsimony, principal component and molecular analyses show that U. trifida f. calva Prassler and U. trifida (Thunb.) N.E.Br. f. trifida are not sister taxa, supporting the recognition of these two taxa as separate species. The Ursinia taxa from the summer-rainfall region are not monophyletic and are sister to a clade of Cape species. This supports a hypothesis that Ursinia migrated from the Cape into the Drakensberg which has been shown for a number of other Cape groups that have Drakensberg relatives.

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