The application of high-throughput sequencing for taxonomy: the case of Plantago subg. Plantago (Plantaginaceae)

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Gustavo Hassemer, Sam Bruun-Lund, Alexey Shipunov, Barbara Briggs, Heidi Meudt, Nina Rønsted

Plantago is a cosmopolitan genus including over 250 species, concentrated in temperate and high-elevation tropical regions. The taxonomy of Plantago is very difficult, mainly because of its reduced morphology, which features relatively few characters for species classification. Consequently, the infrageneric classification of the genus remains controversial and inadequate. In this study we applied high-throughput plastid genome skimming to provide powerful phylogenetic resolution to clarify the relationships within subg. Plantago, which is the largest, most broadly distributed and poorest understood subgenus of Plantago. Ninety-four samples covering ~56% of all species and representing all sections of subg. Plantago as well as an outgroup were successfully sequenced. The resulting phylogenetic topology was used, complemented by field and herbarium studies, to revise the sectional classification of subg. Plantago and present a complete listing of the accepted species in the subgenus. Our phylogenetic results were also tested for their usefulness in clarifying the taxonomic placement of some taxonomically complicated species in the subgenus. We conclude that a combination of morphological studies and state-of-the art high-throughput DNA data provide a useful toolbox for resolving outstanding taxonomic puzzles exemplified by the genus Plantago.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Pages (from-to)156-173
Number of pages173
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2019

ID: 218273429