The Umbelliferae is a large and taxonomically complex family of flowering plants whose phylogenetic relationships, particularly at low taxonomic levels, are generally obscure based on current and widely used molecular markers. Thus, information on the phylogenetic utility of additional molecular markers at these levels is highly favorable. We investigate the utility of nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA) external transcribed spacer (ETS) sequences for phylogenetic inference in Umbelliferae tribe Tordylieae, a group whose relationships have been previously difficult to resolve owing to low sequence variability, and compare the results to those obtained from the nrDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region. We report that the ETS region evolves at a slightly faster rate and has a higher percentage of parsimony informative characters than that of ITS and all chloroplast DNA loci examined to date. The ETS region is a valuable phylogenetic marker in Umbelliferae for low level analysis, especially when used in combination with ITS.
- Molecular phylogeny