Journal Article

Phylogenetic utility of the nuclear genes <i>AGAMOUS 1</i> and <i>PHYTOCHROME B</i> in palms (Arecaceae): an example within Bactridinae

Bertha Ludeña, Nathalie Chabrillange, Frédérique Aberlenc-Bertossi, Hélène Adam, James W. Tregear and Jean-Christophe Pintaud

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 108, issue 8, pages 1433-1444
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Phylogenetic utility of the nuclear genes AGAMOUS 1 and PHYTOCHROME B in palms (Arecaceae): an example within Bactridinae

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

Molecular phylogenetic studies of palms (Arecaceae) have not yet provided a fully resolved phylogeny of the family. There is a need to increase the current set of markers to resolve difficult groups such as the Neotropical subtribe Bactridinae (Arecoideae: Cocoseae). We propose the use of two single-copy nuclear genes as valuable tools for palm phylogenetics.


New primers were developed for the amplification of the AGAMOUS 1 (AG1) and PHYTOCHROME B (PHYB) genes. For the AGAMOUS gene, the paralogue 1 of Elaeis guineensis (EgAG1) was targeted. The region amplified contained coding sequences between the MIKC K and C MADS-box domains. For the PHYB gene, exon 1 (partial sequence) was first amplified in palm species using published degenerate primers for Poaceae, and then specific palm primers were designed. The two gene portions were sequenced in 22 species of palms representing all genera of Bactridinae, with emphasis on Astrocaryum and Hexopetion, the status of the latter genus still being debated.

Key Results

The new primers designed allow consistent amplification and high-quality sequencing within the palm family. The two loci studied produced more variability than chloroplast loci and equally or less variability than PRK, RPBII and ITS nuclear markers. The phylogenetic structure obtained with AG1 and PHYB genes provides new insights into intergeneric relationships within the Bactridinae and the intrageneric structure of Astrocaryum. The Hexopetion clade was recovered as monophyletic with both markers and was weakly supported as sister to Astrocaryum sensu stricto in the combined analysis. The rare Astrocaryum minus formed a species complex with Astrocaryum gynacanthum. Moreover, both AG1 and PHYB contain a microsatellite that could have further uses in species delimitation and population genetics.


AG1 and PHYB provide additional phylogenetic information within the palm family, and should prove useful in combination with other genes to improve the resolution of palm phylogenies.

Keywords: AGAMOUS 1; PHYTOCHROME B; phylogenetic markers; microsatellite; palms; Arecaceae; Bactridinae; Acrocomia; Aiphanes; Astrocaryum; Bactris; Desmoncus; Hexopetion

Journal Article.  6883 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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