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Premise: The economically important, cosmopolitan soapberry family (Sapindaceae) comprises ca. 1900 species in 144 genera. Since the seminal work of Radlkofer, several authors have attempted to overcome challenges presented by the family’s complex infra-familial classification. With the advent of molecular systematics, revisions of the various proposed groupings have provided significant momentum, but we still lack a formal classification system rooted in an evolutionary framework.

Methods: Nuclear DNA sequence data were generated for 123 genera (86%) of Sapindaceae using target sequence capture with the Angiosperms353 universal probe set. HybPiper was used to produce aligned DNA matrices. Phylogenetic inferences were obtained using coalescence-based and concatenated methods. The clades recovered are discussed in light of both benchmark studies to identify synapomorphies and distributional evidence to underpin an updated infra-familial classification.

Key Results: Coalescence-based and concatenated phylogenetic trees had identical topologies and node support, except for the placement of Melicoccus bijugatus Jacq. Twenty-one clades were recovered, which serve as the basis for a revised infra-familial classification.

Conclusions: Twenty tribes are recognized in four subfamilies: two tribes in Hippocastanoideae, two in Dodonaeoideae, and 16 in Sapindoideae (no tribes are recognized in the monotypic subfamily Xanthoceratoideae). Within Sapindoideae, six new tribes are described: Blomieae Buerki & Callm.; Guindilieae Buerki, Callm. & Acev.-Rodr.; Haplocoeleae Buerki & Callm.; Stadmanieae Buerki & Callm.; Tristiropsideae Buerki & Callm.; and Ungnadieae Buerki & Callm. This updated classification provides a backbone for further research and conservation efforts on this family.


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© 2021 The Authors. American Journal of Botany published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Botanical Society of America.