Phylogenetics of extant and fossil Pinaceae: methods for increasing topological stability

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Biological Sciences

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Relationships of living and fossil Pinaceae were inferred using parsimony and Bayesian inference of morphological characters and plastid and nuclear DNA sequences. When considering extant taxa only, adding molecular to morphological characters resulted in markedly increased resolution and branch support compared with analysis of morphology alone. Including 45 fossil taxa resulted in drastically decreased resolution in morphology-based consensus trees. We evaluated the effect on branch support and resolution of including DNA sequences, deleting fossils lacking information for cone scale apices and seeds, using reduced consensus methods, and using implied weighting, and found that the greatest improvements were found by including DNA sequences and using implied weighting. The tree topologies from parsimony and Bayesian inference confirm previous findings that the fossil genus Pseudoaraucaria and a few species of Pityostrobus from the Lower Cretaceous are related to abietoid genera, and that other species of Pityostrobus are pinoid and closely related to Pinus. Focusing phylogenetic analyses on the most complete fossil cones, specifically those that are anatomically preserved and include both cone scale apices and seeds, and taking into account homoplasy, resulted in the clearest hypotheses for the timing and sequence of diversification in the family.


This article was originally published in Botany. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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