Journal Article

New insights into Trimezieae (Iridaceae) phylogeny: what do molecular data tell us?

Juliana Lovo, Richard C. Winkworth and Renato Mello-Silva

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 3, pages 689-702
Published in print August 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online June 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
New insights into Trimezieae (Iridaceae) phylogeny: what do molecular data tell us?

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


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Background and Aims

The Neotropical tribe Trimezieae are taxonomically difficult. They are generally characterized by the absence of the features used to delimit their sister group Tigridieae. Delimiting the four genera that make up Trimezieae is also problematic. Previous family-level phylogenetic analyses have not examined the monophyly of the tribe or relationships within it. Reconstructing the phylogeny of Trimezieae will allow us to evaluate the status of the tribe and genera and to examine the suitability of characters traditionally used in their taxonomy.


Maximum parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses are presented for 37 species representing all four genera of Trimezieae. Analyses were based on nrITS sequences and a combined plastid dataset. Ancestral character state reconstructions were used to investigate the evolution of ten morphological characters previously considered taxonomically useful.

Key Results

Analyses of nrITS and plastid datasets strongly support the monophyly of Trimezieae and recover four principal clades with varying levels of support; these clades do not correspond to the currently recognized genera. Relationships within the four clades are not consistently resolved, although the conflicting resolutions are not strongly supported in individual analyses. Ancestral character state reconstructions suggest considerable homoplasy, especially in the floral characters used to delimit Pseudotrimezia.


The results strongly support recognition of Trimezieae as a tribe but suggest that both generic- and species-level taxonomy need revision. Further molecular analyses, with increased sampling of taxa and markers, are needed to support any revision. Such analyses will help determine the causes of discordance between the plastid and nuclear data and provide a framework for identifying potential morphological synapomorphies for infra-tribal groups. The results also suggest Trimezieae provide a promising model for evolutionary research.

Keywords: DNA sequences; Iridaceae; Iridoideae; morphology; Neomarica; Neotropics; phylogenetic analysis; Pseudiris; Pseudotrimezia; Trimezia; Trimezieae

Journal Article.  7430 words.  Illustrated.

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

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