J Syst Evol ›› 2023, Vol. 61 ›› Issue (4): 657-681.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12921

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Phylogeny and systematics of the tribe Sonerileae (Melastomataceae) in Africa: A revised taxonomic classification

Marie Claire Veranso‐Libalah1*, Hannah Mertes2, Robert Douglas Stone3, Luo Chen1, Tariq Stévart4,5, Frank Almeda6, Xander M. van der Burgt7, and Gudrun Kadereit1,8   

  1. 1 Prinzessin Therese von Bayern Lehrstuhl für Systematik, Biodiversität & Evolution der Pflanzen, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Menzinger Str. 67, München 80638, Germany;
    2 Institut für Molekulare Physiologie, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Mainz 55099, Germany;
    3 School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa;
    4 Africa & Madagascar Department, Missouri Botanical Garden, P. O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA;
    5 Herbarium et Bibliothèque de Botanique africaine, Université Libre de Bruxelles, campus de la Plaine, boulevard du Triomphe, C. P. 265, Brussels 1050, Belgium;
    6 Department of Botany, Institute for Biodiversity Science & Sustainability, California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA;
    7 Herbarium, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE, UK;
    8 Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns (SNSB):Botanische Staatssammlung München, Botanischer Garten München- Nymphenburg, Menzinger Str. 65 und 67, München 80638, Germany
    *Author for correspondence. E‐mail: mario_clario@yahoo.ca
  • Received:2022-02-16 Revised:2022-09-15 Online:2022-09-30 Published:2023-07-01

Abstract: The tribe Sonerileae in tropical Africa and Madagascar is a morphologically diverse lineage that consists of 239 species in 10 genera. In this study, we present the first in-depth phylogenetic analysis of African Sonerileae to test monophyly of the currently recognized genera. Phylogenetic analyses were performed using sequence data from two nuclear (nrITS and nrETS) and three plastid loci (accD-psaI, ndhF and psbK-psbL). Sampling consisted of 140 accessions including 64 African, 27 Malagasy, 46 Asian, and three neotropical Sonerileae together with a broad outgroup sampling (105 spp.). Phylogenetic relationships were inferred using maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference approaches, and a careful reassessment of morphological characters was carried out. Our results neither support the monophyly of the Old World nor African Sonerileae. The monospecific African genus Benna is partially supported as sister to Phainantha, one of the basal neotropical lineages, while African and Malagasy Medinilla are nested among the SE Asian genera. Gravesia (116 spp.), the most species-rich and morphologically diverse genus in Madagascar, is recovered as monophyletic. The African genera of Sonerileae Calvoa, Dicellandra, and Preussiella form well-supported clades. In contrast, Amphiblemma (including Amphiblemma molle) and Cincinnobotrys s.l. (including Cincinnobotrys felicis) are not monophyletic. To accommodate the caulescent C. felicis we propose reinstatement of the monospecific genus Bourdaria. For the distinctive A. molle a new genus Mendelia is described. Calvoa hirsuta is designated here as the type of genus Calvoa, lectotypes are designated for Medinilla engleri and Veprecella lutea, and a neotype is designated for Preussiella kamerunensis.

Key words: Africa, Malagasy, Melastomataceae, morphology, new genus, phylogeny, Sonerileae, taxonomy