Cells, Genes & Molecules Taxonomy & Evolution

Phylogeny, age and adaptive evolution of genus Allium

The genus Allium L., one of the largest monocotyledonous genera and one that includes many economically important crops with nutritional and medicinal value, has been the focus of classification or phylogeny studies for centuries. Recent studies suggested that the genus can be divided into 15 subgenera and 72 sections, which were further classified into three evolutionary lineages. However, the phylogenetic relationships reconstructed by one or two loci showed weaker support, especially for the third evolutionary lineage, which might not show the species relationships very clearly and could hinder further adaptive and evolutionary study.

Phylogenetic relationships, flower morphologies and chromosome characteristics of Allium species collected in this study. Source. Xie et al. 2020.

Deng-Feng Xie and colleagues collected a total of 39 complete chloroplast genomes of Allium (covering 12 Allium subgenera), and combining these with 125 species of plastomes from 19 other families of monocots, we reconstructed the phylogeny of the genus Allium, estimated the origin and divergence time of the three evolutionary lineages and investigated the adaptive evolution in this genus and related families.

Their results detected a well-supported phylogenetic relationship of Allium. The PSGs and PSGs with high Ka/Ks values, as well as diversified morphologies, complicated chromosome characteristics and unique reproductive modes may play important roles in the adaptation and evolution of Allium species. This is the first study that conducted phylogenetic and evolutionary analyses on the genus Allium combined with the plastome and morphological and cytological data. The team hope that this study can contribute to further analysis of Allium for other researchers.

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