Incongruence between primary sequence data and the distribution of a mitochondrial atp1 group II intron among ferns and horsetails.
Using DNA sequence data from multiple genes (often from more than one genome compartment) to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships has become routine. Augmenting this approach with genomic structural characters (e.g., intron gain and loss, changes in gene order) as these data become available from comparative studies already has provided critical insight into some long-standing questions about the evolution of land plants. Here we report on the presence of a group II intron located in the mitochondrial atp1 gene of leptosporangiate and marattioid ferns. Primary sequence data for the atp1 gene are newly reported for 27 taxa, and results are presented from maximum likelihood-based phylogenetic analyses using Bayesian inference for 34 land plants in three data sets: (1) single-gene mitochondrial atp1 (exon+intron sequences); (2) five combined genes (mitochondrial atp1 [exon only]; plastid rbcL, atpB, rps4; nuclear SSU rDNA); and (3) same five combined genes plus morphology. All our phylogenetic analyses corroborate results from previous fern studies that used plastid and nuclear sequence data: the monophyly of euphyllophytes, as well as of monilophytes; whisk ferns (Psilotidae) sister to ophioglossoid ferns (Ophioglossidae); horsetails (Equisetopsida) sister to marattioid ferns (Marattiidae), which together are sister to the monophyletic leptosporangiate ferns. In contrast to the results from the primary sequence data, the genomic structural data (atp1 intron distribution pattern) would seem to suggest that leptosporangiate and marattioid ferns are monophyletic, and together they are the sister group to horsetails--a topology that is rarely reconstructed using primary sequence data.
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