Resolved phylogenetic relationships in the Ocotea complex (Supraocotea) facilitate phylogenetic classification and studies of character evolution

Liza Comita, Simon Queenborough and 5 other contributors

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    Premise The Ocotea complex contains the greatest diversity of Lauraceae in the Neotropics. However, the traditional taxonomy of the group has relied on only three main floral characters, and previous molecular analyses have used only a few markers and provided limited support for relationships among the major clades. This lack of useful data has hindered the development of a comprehensive classification, as well as studies of character evolution. Methods We used RAD-seq data to infer the phylogenetic relationships of 149 species in the Ocotea complex, generating a reference-based assembly using the Persea americana genome. The results provide the basis for a phylogenetic classification that reflects our current molecular knowledge and for analyses of the evolution of breeding system, stamen number, and number of anther locules. Results We recovered a well-supported tree that demonstrates the paraphyly of Licaria, Aniba, and Ocotea and clarifies the relationships of Umbellularia, Phyllostemonodaphne, and the Old World species. To begin the development of a new classification and to facilitate precise communication, we also provide phylogenetic definitions for seven major clades. Our ancestral reconstructions show multiple origins for the three floral characters that have routinely been used in Lauraceae systematics, suggesting that these be used with caution in the future. Conclusions This study advances our understanding of phylogenetic relationships and character evolution in a taxonomically difficult group using RAD-seq data. Our new phylogenetic names will facilitate unambiguous communication as studies of the Ocotea complex progress.