Tracing History Phylogenetic, Taxonomic, and Biogeographic Research in the Colchicum Family
Abstract: This thesis concerns the history and the intrafamilial delimitations of the plant family Colchicaceae. A phylogeny of 73 taxa representing all genera of Colchicaceae, except the monotypic Kuntheria, is presented. The molecular analysis based on three plastid regions—the rps16 intron, the atpB-rbcL intergenic spacer, and the trnL-F region—reveal the intrafamilial classification to be in need of revision. The two tribes Iphigenieae and Uvularieae are demon-strated to be paraphyletic. The well-known genus Colchicum is shown to be nested within Androcymbium, Onixotis constitutes a grade between Neodregea and Wurmbea, and Gloriosa is intermixed with species of Littonia. Two new tribes are described, Burchardieae and Tripladenieae, and the two tribes Colchiceae and Uvularieae are emended, leaving four tribes in the family. At generic level new combinations are made in Wurmbea and Gloriosa in order to render them monophyletic. The genus Androcymbium is paraphyletic in relation to Colchicum and the latter genus is therefore expanded. An investigation of the distribution of colchicine within the expanded Colchicaceae is conducted to evaluate the potential of colchicine as a synapomorphy of the re-circumscribed family. The results demonstrate presence of colchicine in all genera previously not examined in Colchicaceae and in the genus Burchardia, earlier reported to lack colchicine. Hence, demonstrating colchicine to be a synapomorphy for the family. An attempt to date the phylogeny of the order Liliales together with a dispersal-vicariance (DIVA) analysis indicates that the split between Colchicaceae and Alstromeriaceae-Luzuriagaceae represents a vicariance event following the disintegration of the Australian-Antarctican-South American link, ~34 million years ago. Further, the DIVA analysis indicates that Colchicaceae originated in Australia, first reached Asia and North America, and later Africa, from where they expanded to Europe and also dispersed back to Australia.
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