Combining and comparing morphometric shape descriptors with a molecular phylogeny: the case of fruit type evolution in Bornean Lithocarpus (Fagaceae).
Fruit type in the genus Lithocarpus (Fagaceae) includes both classic oak acorns and novel modifications. Bornean taxa with modified fruits can be separated into two sections (Synaedrys and Lithocarpus) based on subtle shape differences. By following strict criteria for homology and representation, this variation in shape can be captured and the sections distinguished by using elliptic Fourier or eigenshape analysis. Phenograms of fruit shape, constructed by using restricted maximum likelihood techniques and these morphometric descriptors, were incorporated into combined and comparative analyses with molecular sequence data from the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the nuclear rDNA, using branch-weighted matrix representation. The combined analysis strongly suggested independent derivation of the novel fruit type in the two sections from different acornlike ancestors, while the comparative analysis indicated frequent decoupling between the molecular and morphological changes as inferred at well-supported nodes. The acorn fruit type has undergone little modification between ingroup and outgroup, despite large molecular distance. Greater morphological than molecular change was inferred at critical transitions between acorn and novel fruit types, particularly for section Lithocarpus. The combination of these two different types of data improved our understanding of the macroevolution of fruit type in this difficult group, and the comparative analysis highlighted the significant incongruities in evolutionary pattern between the two datasets.
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