Pines (genus Pinus) are among the most ecologically and economically important plant species. Some, such as the pines of the southeastern USA (southern pines in subsection Australes), are the subject of intensive breeding programmes. Despite numerous published studies, the evolutionary history of Australes remains ambiguous and often controversial. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Koralewski et al. used 11 nuclear genes and multiple phylogenetic techniques to study relationships among four North American pines from subsection Australes. Support for phylogenies reconstructed based on all data was generally weak and inconsistent among methods. Subsequent analysis revealed that certain topologies were supported by genes with common putative functionalities. Therefore, each set of genes was analysed independently. Recovered alternative topologies were highly supported and the results were consistent among methods. Multiple evolutionary hypotheses could potentially explain the observed patterns, although incomplete lineage sorting seems to be the simplest one.
Tomasz E. Koralewski, Mariana Mateos, Konstantin V. Krutovsky, 2016, 'Conflicting genomic signals affect phylogenetic inference in four species of North American pines', AoB Plants, vol. 8, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plw019