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A molecular and morphological phylogeny of the Phebalium Group (Rutaceae)

Start date:
01 Jan 2013
End date:
31 Dec 2017
Marco Duretto Margaret Heslewood Michael Bayly (School of Biological Sciences, The University of Melbourne)
Project sponsors:
The Hermon Slade Foundation

Project aims

  • Produce robust molecular phylogenies based on multiple gene sequences for all genera and the majority of species.
  • Map morphological characters onto these phylogenetic trees to determine the evolution of key features.
  • Identifying congruent biogeographic patterns across Australia, especially in southern Australia, using multiple genera and identifying areas and taxa of high conservation value

Project Summary

The Phebalium Group (15 genera, c. 180 spp.) represents a significant component of biodiversity in the plant family Rutaceae. The Group is largely confined to southern Australia although there are representatives in northern Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia.  Only one genus is clearly defined and generic rearrangement appears to be required. In this study we aim to produce the first robust phylogeny of the Phebalium Group which will be used as a framework to define generic and infrageneric limits. We will critically evaluate the taxonomic status of several taxa that are isolated, taxonomically and/or geographically. It will provide a phylogenetic framework for research in biogeography and character evolution, eg. bird pollination is rare in Rutaceae but has arisen several times in this group.

Research Update

Samples of most taxa have been obtained and sequence and morphological data collected. Data analysis has commenced. Preliminary results indicates that many of the genera require realignment. Several isolated species may require new genera or subgenera and some genera may need to be combined.