A new classification of Carex (Cyperaceae) subgenera supported by a HybSeq backbone phylogenetic tree - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew research repository
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A new classification of Carex (Cyperaceae) subgenera supported by a HybSeq backbone phylogenetic tree

30 July 2020


The field of systematics is experiencing a new molecular revolution driven by the increased availability of high-throughput sequencing technologies. As these techniques become more affordable, the increased genomic resources have increasingly far-reaching implications for our understanding of the Tree of Life. With c. 2000 species, Carex (Cyperaceae) is one of the five largest genera of angiosperms and one of the two largest among monocots, but the phylogenetic relationships between the main lineages are still poorly understood. We designed a Cyperaceae-specific HybSeq bait kit using transcriptomic data of Carex siderosticta and Cyperus papyrus. We identified 554 low-copy nuclear orthologous loci, targeting a total length of c. 1 Mbp. Our Cyperaceae-specific kit shared loci with a recently published angiosperm-specific Anchored Hybrid Enrichment kit, which enabled us to include and compile data from different sources. We used our Cyperaceae kit to sequence 88 Carex spp., including samples of all the five major clades in the genus. For the first time, we present a phylogenetic tree of Carex based on hundreds of loci (308 nuclear exon matrices, 543 nuclear intron matrices and 66 plastid exon matrices), demonstrating that there are six strongly supported main lineages in Carex: the Siderostictae, Schoenoxiphium, Unispicate, Uncinia, Vignea and Core Carex clades. Based on our results, we suggest a revised subgeneric treatment and provide lists of the species belonging to each of the subgenera. Our results will inform future biogeographic, taxonomic, molecular dating and evolutionary studies in Carex and provide the step towards a revised classification that seems likely to stand the test of time.


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