A molecular phylogeny of scaly tree ferns (Cyatheaceae).
Tree ferns recently were identified as the closest sister group to the hyperdiverse clade of ferns, the polypods. Although most of the 600 species of tree ferns are arborescent, the group encompasses a wide range of morphological variability, from diminutive members to the giant scaly tree ferns, Cyatheaceae. This well-known family comprises most of the tree fern diversity (∼500 species) and is widespread in tropical, subtropical, and south temperate regions of the world. Here we investigate the phylogenetic relationships of scaly tree ferns based on DNA sequence data from five plastid regions (rbcL, rbcL-accD IGS, rbcL-atpB IGS, trnG-trnR, and trnL-trnF). A basal dichotomy resolves Sphaeropteris as sister to all other taxa and scale features support these two clades: Sphaeropteris has conform scales, whereas all other taxa have marginate scales. The marginate-scaled clade consists of a basal trichotomy, with the three groups here termed (1) Cyathea (including Cnemidaria, Hymenophyllopsis, Trichipteris), (2) Alsophila sensu stricto, and (3) Gymnosphaera (previously recognized as a section within Alsophila) + A. capensis. Scaly tree ferns display a wide range of indusial structures, and although indusium shape is homoplastic it does contain useful phylogenetic information that supports some of the larger clades recognised.
Korall, P; Conant, DS; Metzgar, JS; Schneider, H; Pryer, KM
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