Journal: PloS ONE
Volume: 10(5): e0126690. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126690
Pages: 1-26


Divergence time analyses in the coffee family (Rubiaceae) have all relied on the same Gentianales crown group age estimate, reported by an earlier analysis of the asterids, for defining the upper age bound of the root node in their analyses. However, not only did the asterid analysis suffer from several analytical shortcomings, but the estimate itself has been used in highly inconsistent ways in these Rubiaceae analyses. Based on the original data, we here reanalyze the divergence times of the asterids using relaxed-clock models and 14 fossil-based minimum age constraints. We also expand the data set to include an additional 67 taxa from Rubiaceae sampled across all three subfamilies recognized in the family. Three analyses are conducted: a separate analysis of the asterids, which completely mirrors the original asterid analysis in terms of taxon sample and data; a separate analysis of the Gentianales, where the result from the first analysis is used for defining a secondary root calibration point; and a combined analysis where all taxa are analyzed simultaneously. Results are presented in the form of a time-calibrated phylogeny, and age estimates for asterid groups, Gentianales, and major groups of Rubiaceae are compared and discussed in relation to previously published estimates. Our updated age estimates for major groups of Rubiaceae provide a significant step forward towards the long term goal of establishing a robust temporal framework for the divergence of this biologically diverse and fascinating group of plants.