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1Institute of Geosciences, Department of Biogeology and Applied Paleontology, University of Tübingen, Germany. 2Department of Biology, University of Munich, Germany. 3Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, School of Computer & Communication Sciences, Lausanne, Switzerland. 4Center of Plant Molecular Biology, Department of Genetics, University of Tübingen, Germany.
Abstract: The multi-copy internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of nuclear ribosomal DNA is widely used to infer phylogenetic relationships among closely related taxa. Here we use maximum likelihood (ML) and splits graph analyses to extract phylogenetic information from ~ 600 mostly cloned ITS sequences, representing 81 species and subspecies of Acer, and both species of its sister Dipteronia. Additional analyses compared sequence motifs in Acer and several hundred Anacardiaceae, Burseraceae, Meliaceae, Rutaceae, and Sapindaceae ITS sequences in GenBank. We also assessed the effects of using smaller data sets of consensus sequences with ambiguity coding (accounting for within-species variation) instead of the full (partly redundant) original sequences. Neighbor-nets and bipartition networks were used to visualize conflict among character state patterns. Species clusters observed in the trees and networks largely agree with morphology-based classifications; of de Jong’s (1994) 16 sections, nine are supported in neighbor-net and bipartition networks, and ten by sequence motifs and the ML tree; of his 19 series, 14 are supported in networks, motifs, and the ML tree. Most nodes had higher bootstrap support with matrices of 105 or 40 consensus sequences than with the original matrix. Within-taxon ITS divergence did not differ between diploid and polyploid Acer, and there was little evidence of differentiated parental ITS haplotypes, suggesting that concerted evolution in Acer acts rapidly.
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