DNA and Higher Plant Systematics: Some Examples from the Legumes
In the last few years, the DNA revolution has begun to have a dramatic impact on the field of plant systematics. Access to the various plant genomes--chloroplast, mitochondrial, and nuclear--has provided the systematist with a virtually inexhaustible source of characters for phylogenetic analysis. The interaction of DNA technology and cladistic analysis has been particularly powerful: the tools for producing empirical data relevant to phylogenetic relationship have been complemented by a rigorous theoretical framework on which to build explicit hypotheses of homology and phylogeny. This potent combination has led to a rapid acceptance of molecular approaches in “mainstream” plant systematics, which has been manifested in a large number of publications and papers at plant systematics meetings (at least in the USA) involving DNA phylogenies. Not all of the three genomes have received equal attention, however, nor have the tools that are currently most widely used been shown to be useful at all taxonomic levels. Furthermore, the role of polymorphism, of confidence in phylogenies, and in general of the difference between gene trees and species trees is only slowly becoming appreciated among plant systematists and clearly should have some impact on the development of the field.
KeywordsChlorophyll Codon Recombination Glycine Glutamine
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