Authors: Groeninckx, I., S. Dessein, H. Ochoterena, C. Persson, T. J. Motley, J. Kårehed, B. Bremer, S. Huysmans and E. Smeds
Journal: Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard.
Volume: 96
Pages: 109-132


In its current circumscription, the herbaceous tribe Spermacoceae s.l. (Rubiaceae, Rubioideae) unites the former tribes Spermacoceae s. str., Manettieae, and the HedyotisOldenlandia group. Within Spermacoceae, and particularly within the HedyotisOldenlandia group, the generic delimitations are problematic. Up until now, molecular studies have focused on specific taxonomic problems within the tribe. This study is the first to address phylogenetic relationships within Spermacoceae from a tribal perspective. Sequences of three plastid markers (atpB-rbcL, rps16, and trnL-trnF) were analyzed separately as well as combined using parsimony and Bayesian approaches. Our results support the expanded tribe Spermacoceae as monophyletic. The former tribe Spermacoceae s. str. forms a monophyletic clade nested within the Hedyotis–Oldenlandia group. Several genera formerly recognized within the HedyotisOldenlandia group are supported as monophyletic (Amphiasma Bremek., Arcytophyllum Willd. ex Schult. & Schult. f., Dentella J. R. Forst. & G. Forst., Kadua Cham. & Schltdl., and Phylohydrax Puff), while others appear to be paraphyletic (e.g., Agathisanthemum Klotzsch), biphyletic (Kohautia Cham. & Schltdl.), or polyphyletic (Hedyotis L. and Oldenlandia L. sensu Bremekamp). Morphological investigations of the taxa are ongoing in order to find support for the many new clades and relationships detected. This study provides a phylogenetic hypothesis with broad sampling across the major lineages of Spermacoceae that can be used to guide future species-level and generic studies.