Phylogenetic placement of Cynomorium in Rosales inferred from sequences of the inverted repeat region of the chloroplast genome


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Abstract Cynomorium is a herbaceous holoparasite that has been placed in Santalales, Saxifragales, Myrtales, or Sapindales. The inverted repeat (IR) region of the chloroplast genome region is slow evolving and, unlike mitochondrial genes, the chloroplast genome experiences few horizontal gene transfers between the host and parasite. Thus, in the present study, we used sequences of the IR region to test the phylogenetic placements of Cynomorium. Phylogenetic analyses of the chloroplast IR sequences generated largely congruent ordinal relationships with those from previous studies of angiosperm phylogeny based on single or multiple genes. Santalales was closely related to Caryophyllales and asterids. Saxifragales formed a clade where Peridiscus was sister to the remainder of the order, whereas Paeonia was sister to the woody clade of Saxifragales. Cynomorium is not closely related to Santalales, Saxifragales, Myrtales, or Sapindales; instead, it is included in Rosales and sister to Rosaceae. The various placements of the holoparasite on the basis of different regions of the mitochondrial genome may indicate the heterogeneous nature of the genome in the parasite. However, it is unlikely that the placement of Cynomorium in Rosales is the result of chloroplast gene transfer because Cynomorium does not parasitize on rosaceous plants and there is no chloroplast gene transfer between Cynomorium and Nitraria, a confirmed host of Cynomorium and a member of Sapindales.