Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 305, Issue 1, pp 33–48 | Cite as

Systematics of Onobrychis sect. Heliobrychis (Fabaceae): morphology and molecular phylogeny revisited

  • Akram Kaveh
  • Shahrokh Kazempour-OsalooEmail author
  • Atefe Amirahmadi
  • Aliasghar Maassoumi
  • Gerald M. Schneeweiss
Original Article


Onobrychis sect. Heliobrychis with ca. 30 species is one of the most species-rich sections of Onobrychis. It comprises predominantly perennials mainly distributed in Iran, Turkey, and Transcaucasia. In order to test the monophyly of the section and as well as its subsections and to clarify interspecific relationships, three non-coding chloroplast sequences and the nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer were employed. Phylogenetic analyses were performed by maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian inference. Based on the combined data set, O. sect. Heliobrychis was retrieved as a well-supported monophyletic group sister to O. sect. Hymenobrychis. The annuals traditionally united in subsect. Persicae formed a paraphyletic group, whereas all perennials (the monotypic subsect. Szovitsianae nested within subsect. Boissierianae) assembled in a monophyletic group. Ancestral state reconstruction of morphological characters: life history, the absence/presence of stem, and the number of seed, indicated that annuality is plesiomorphic, whereas the absence of a stem and two-seeded pods is homoplasious in the section. Based on molecular phylogeny and morphological evidence, the taxonomy of some species of sect. Heliobrychis was re-examined. Therewith, O. aucheri subsp. aucheri was synonymized with O. heliocarpa, O. aucheri subsp. psammophila and O. aucheri subsp. teheranica were raised to species rank as O. psammophila and O. teheranica, respectively, and O. semnanensis was resurrected. Also as a complementary taxonomic treatment, a diagnostic key to the species of O. sect. Heliobrychis is supplied.


Heliobrychis Irano-Anatolian hotspot Onobrychis Phylogeny Taxonomy 



This study was carried out with the financial support of the research council of the Tarbiat Modares University. We would like to thank the staff of several herbaria (W, MSB, B, FUMH, HKNRRC, HQNRRC, and TARI) to allow studying herbarium specimens and providing leaf materials, especially Dr. Vitek (W) and Eng. Joharchi (FUMH).

Supplementary material

606_2018_1549_MOESM1_ESM.nex (140 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (NEX 140 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of Biological SciencesTarbiat Modares UniversityTehranIran
  2. 2.School of Biology and Institute of Biological SciencesDamghan UniversityDamghanIran
  3. 3.Department of BotanyResearch Institute of Forests and RangelandsTehranIran
  4. 4.Department of Botany and Biodiversity ResearchUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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