Integrating Fossil Flowers into the Angiosperm Phylogeny Using Molecular and Morphological Evidence

Andrea M López-Martínez, Jürg Schönenberger, Anna Maria Louise von Balthazar-Schönenberger, César A González-Martínez, Santiago Ramírez-Barahona, Hervé Sauquet, Susana Magallón

Fossils are essential to infer past evolutionary processes. The assignment of fossils to extant clades has traditionally relied on morphological similarity and on apomorphies shared with extant taxa. The use of explicit phylogenetic analyses to establish fossil affinities has so far remained limited. In this study, we built a comprehensive framework to investigate the phylogenetic placement of 24 exceptionally preserved fossil flowers. For this, we assembled a new species-level data set of 30 floral traits for 1201 extant species that were sampled to capture the stem and crown nodes of all angiosperm families. We explored multiple analytical approaches to integrate the fossils into the phylogeny, including different phylogenetic estimation methods, topological-constrained analyses, and combining molecular and morphological data of extant and fossil species. Our results were widely consistent across approaches and showed minor differences in the support of fossils at different phylogenetic positions. The placement of some fossils agrees with previously suggested relationships, but for others, a new placement is inferred. We also identified fossils that are well supported within particular extant families, whereas others showed high phylogenetic uncertainty. Finally, we present recommendations for future analyses combining molecular and morphological evidence, regarding the selection of fossils and appropriate methodologies, and provide some perspectives on how to integrate fossils into the investigation of divergence times and the temporal evolution of morphological traits. [Angiosperms; fossil flowers; phylogenetic uncertainty; RoguePlots.]

Department für Botanik und Biodiversitätsforschung
Externe Organisation(en)
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, National Herbarium of New South Wales, University of New South Wales
Systematic Biology
Anzahl der Seiten
ÖFOS 2012
106008 Botanik, 106012 Evolutionsforschung, 106042 Systematische Botanik
ASJC Scopus Sachgebiete
Genetics, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
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