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Keywords:

  • accD–psa1 intergenic spacer (IGS);
  • Coffeeae;
  • crop wild relatives (CWR);
  • internal transcribed spacer (ITS);
  • Old World biogeography;
  • molecular phylogenetics;
  • morphology;
  • rpl16 intron;
  • trnL–F intron;
  • trnL–F IGS

Morphological and molecular phylogenetic studies show that there is a close relationship between Coffea and Psilanthus. In this study we reassess species relationships based on improved species sampling for Psilanthus, including P. melanocarpus, a species that shares morpho-taxonomic characters of both genera. Analyses are performed using parsimony and Bayesian inference, on sequence data from four plastid regions [trnL–F intron, trnL–F IGS, rpl16 intron and accD–psa1 intergenic spacer (IGS)] and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of nuclear ribosomal DNA (ITS 1/5.8S/ITS 2). Several major lineages with geographical coherence, as identified in previous studies based on smaller and larger data sets, are supported. Our results also confirm previous studies showing that the level of sequence divergence between Coffea and Psilanthus species is negligible, particularly given the much longer branch lengths separating other genera of tribe Coffeeae. There are strong indications that neither Psilanthus nor Coffea is monophyletic. Psilanthus melanocarpus is nested with the CoffeaPsilanthus clade, which means that there is only one critical difference between Coffea and Psilanthus; the former has a long-emergent style and the latter a short, included style. Based on these new data, in addition to other systematically informative evidence from a broad range of studies, and especially morphology, Psilanthus is subsumed into Coffea. This decision increases the number of species in Coffea from 104 to 124, extends the distribution to tropical Asia and Australasia and broadens the morphological characterization of the genus. The implications for understanding the evolutionary history of Coffea are discussed. A group of closely related species is informally named the ‘Coffea liberica alliance’. © 2011 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 167, 357–377.