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Keywords:

  • Peperomia;
  • phylogeny;
  • trnK intron;
  • matK;
  • Bayesian inference;
  • giant genera

Abstract: The genus Peperomia is one of the largest genera of basal angiosperms, comprising about 1500 - 1700 pantropically distributed species. The currently accepted infrageneric classification divides Peperomia into nine subgenera and seven sections. This classification is based on some 200 species, primarily using fruit morphology. The monophyly of these infrageneric taxa has never been tested and molecular phylogenetic studies of a representative sampling within Peperomia do not exist. This paper provides the first molecular phylogeny for the genus Peperomia. Monophyletic clades within Peperomia are identified and previously used morphological characters are critically reviewed. We show that the importance of some morphological characters has been overestimated and that some of these characters presumably have evolved several times independently. Only one previously described subgenus has been confirmed to be monophyletic.