Molecular Phylogenetics of the Asiatic Genus Primulina (Gesneriaceae).

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Student Presentation

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James Smith


Although speciation, as a result of evolution can be seen in the morphology of organisms, understanding the process speciation is difficult, especially when studying closely related organisms. Although any trait can be used to construct phylogeny, molecular data are relatively easy to collect, homology is more readily interpreted, and obtaining data is more rapid compared to morphology. The plant genus, Primulina is found in China and North Vietnam and was recently phylogenetically reconstructed from Chirita. Thirty-six samples of Primulina and other genera from the Old World subfamily Cyrtandroideae were collected, and DNA was extracted. Through PCR, specific regions of chloroplast and low copy nuclear DNA regions were amplified and sequenced. After the editing and aligning the sequences, the first phylogenetic tree was produced, using maximum parsimony. The analyses resulted in 63 trees equally parsimonious trees of 2,426 steps. The consistency index was 0.6616, meaning approximately 2/3 of the data changed only once. Although the current sampling of data and species are not yet adequate to begin answering questions of speciation in this group, we are able to resolve larger sections within the genus that may allow for more intensive sampling of species. Further research will investigate different gene regions such as cycloidea, to help add more data. This phylogenetic analysis will lead to dating and constructing a timeline of speciation occurrence within Primulina.

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