Phylogeny and patterns of floral diversity in the genus Piper (Piperaceae).
With ∼1000 species distributed pantropically, the genus Piper is one of the most diverse lineages among basal angiosperms. To rigorously address the evolution of Piper we use a phylogenetic analysis of sequences of the internal transcribed spacers (ITS) of nuclear ribosomal DNA based on a worldwide sample. Sequences from a total of 51 species of Piper were aligned to yield 257 phylogenetically informative sites. A single unrooted parsimony network suggested that taxa representing major geographic areas could potentially form three monophyletic groups: Asia, the South Pacific, and the Neotropics. The position of Pothomorphe was well supported among groups of New World taxa. Simultaneous phylogenetic analysis of an expanded alignment including outgroups suggested that taxa from the South Pacific and Asia formed a monophyletic group, provisionally supporting a single origin of dioecy. Within the Neotropical sister clade, resolution was high and strong bootstrap support confirmed the monophyly of several traditionally recognized infrageneric groups (e.g., Enckea [including Arctottonia], Ottonia, Radula, Macrostachys). In contrast, some of the species representing the highly polytypic subgroup Steffensia formed a clade corresponding to the previously recognized taxon Schilleria, while others were strongly associated with several of the more specialized groups of taxa. The distribution of putatively derived inflorescence and floral character states suggested that both umbellate and solitary axillary inflorescences have multiple origins. Reduction in anther number appears to be associated with highly packaged inflorescences or with larger anther primordia per flower, trends that are consistent with the suppression of later stages of androecial development.
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