Phylogenetic relationships and generic boundaries in the Episcieae (Gesneriaceae) inferred from nuclear, chloroplast, and morphological data

John L. Clark*, Patrick S. Herendeen, Laurence E. Skog, Elizabeth A. Zimmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Episcieae is the most diverse tribe of Gesneriaceae, with 22 genera and over 700 species, or roughly 21% of all Gesneriaceae. The tribe is restricted to the Neotropics and is characterized by axillary flowers derived from a pair-flowered cyme inflorescence by reduction, a three-trace trilacunar node with split lateral bundles, superior ovaries, and with most members having a haploid chromosome number of n = 9 [n = 8 in Codonanthe and Nematanthus]. Most traditionally recognized genera in Episcieae are either known to be non-monophyletic or have not been represented adequately in phylogenetic analyses to test their monophyly. This paper presents phylogenetic analyses utilizing two molecular [the internal transcribed spacer region of 18S-26S nuclear ribosomal DNA (ITS) and the trnH-psbA intergenic spacer for 155 species] and one morphological (99 characters for 120 species) datasets, combined in a total evidence analysis. All traditionally recognized genera of Episcieae except for the monotypic genus Lampadaria are represented. Of the 21 sampled genera in Episcieae, 16 are represented by the generic type species. The genera Glossoloma and Crantzia are segregated from the genus Alloplectus as traditionally recognized. Other genera that are strongly supported as monophyletic include Alsobia, Columnea (with the inclusion of C. dielsii), Corytoplectus, and Episcia. Drymonia is weakly supported and is shown here to be morphologically diverse and in need of further evaluation. Evolution of fruit structure is examined in the context of the phylogenetic results presented here with two previously unreported features that are here referred to as capsules with tardily dehiscent and non-dehiscent endocarps. Three independent origins of resupinate flowers are inferred for Glossoloma, Nematanthus, and Crantzia. Strongly supported clades have centers of diversity in southeastern Brazil (Nematanthus, Codonanthe, Codonanthopsis, and Paradrymonia anisophylla), northern South America (Alloplectus, Drymonia, Columnea, Neomortonia), Central America (Alsobia, Oerstedina, Rufodorsia, Cobananthus), and two clades with diversity in the Guiana Shield [(Paradrymonia, Nautilocalyx, Chrysothemis) and (Lembocarpus, Cremersia, Rhoogeton)]. Neomortonia, a genus of three species, is poorly supported due to conflict among datasets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-336
Number of pages24
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Alloplectus
  • Crantzia
  • Episcieae
  • Gesneriaceae
  • Glossoloma
  • ITS
  • trnH-psbA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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