J Syst Evol ›› 2023, Vol. 61 ›› Issue (1): 64-79.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12910

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Phylogenomic study of Amorphophallus (Alismatales; Araceae): When plastid DNA gene sequences help to resolve the backbone subgeneric delineation

Charles Pouchon1,2*, Jérémy Gauthier3, Camille Pitteloud3, Cyrille Claudel4†, and Nadir Alvarez1,3†   

  1. 1 Department of Genetics and Evolution, Section of Biology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
    2 Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève, 1292 Chambésy, Geneva, Switzerland
    3 Geneva Natural History Museum, Geneva, Switzerland
    4 Department of Biology, Institute for Plant Science and Microbiology, University of Hamburg, Ohnhorststraße 18, Hamburg 22609, Germany

    Cyrille Claudel and Nadir Alvarez are considered as joint last authors.
    *Author for correspondence. E‐mail: charles.pouchon@orthoskim.org
  • Received:2021-12-08 Accepted:2022-08-04 Online:2022-08-27 Published:2023-01-01


Encompassing ca. 200 species distributed in paleotropical Africa and Asia, Amorphophallus is one of the largest genera of Araceae. In spite of the great economic interest in its glucomannan production, only a few studies have attempted to grasp the evolutionary history of this genus. In the current state of knowledge, four main clades, mostly linked to biogeographical delineation, have been identified from phylogenies based on a few genes. However, relationships among and within these clades still remain unclear, due to the rapid radiation that occurred during the early evolutionary history of the genus. Here, we generated genome skimming libraries for 43 specimens from 36 species distributed across the 4 clades, which allowed us to produce a phylogenetic matrix for a set of 71 plastid genes. Our phylogenies confirm the monophyly of these clades but show a new and well-resolved arrangement among these clades. Our analyses therefore provide a new scenario and timeline for the evolution of the main Amorphophallus clades, consistent with the morphological characteristics of the clades. The inferred scenario is also in agreement with climate dynamics and the onset of long-distance dispersal by the earliest migratory birds near the Oligocene/Miocene transition around 23 million years ago. Our study provides an up-to-date baseline to understand biogeographic and ecological processes that shaped the current diversity and distribution of Amorphophallus, paving the way for larger-scale phylogenomic studies based on plastid and nuclear genomes.

Key words: Alismatales, genome skimming, molecular dating, Oligocene/Miocene dispersion, organelle genomes