A molecular phylogeny and classification of Leptochloa (Poaceae: Chloridoideae: Chlorideae) sensu lato and related genera.
Background and Aims: Leptochloa (including Diplachne) sensu lato (s.l.) comprises a diverse assemblage of C4 (NAD-ME and PCK) grasses with approx. 32 annual or perennial species. Evolutionary relationships and a modern classification of Leptochloa spp. based on the study of molecular characters have only been superficially investigated in four species. The goals of this study were to reconstruct the evolutionary history of Leptochloa s.l. with molecular data and broad taxon sampling. Methods: A phylogenetic analysis was conducted of 130 species (mostly Chloridoideae), of which 22 are placed in Leptochloa, using five plastid (rpL32-trn-L, ndhA intron, rps16 intron, rps16-trnK and ccsA) and the nuclear ITS 1 and 2 (ribosomal internal transcribed spacer regions) to infer evolutionary relationships and revise the classification. Key results: Leptochloa s.l. is polyphyletic and strong support was found for five lineages. Embedded within the Leptochloa sensu stricto (s.s.) clade are two Trichloris spp. and embedded in Dinebra are Drake-brockmania and 19 Leptochloa spp. Conclusions: The molecular results support the dissolution of Leptochloa s.l. into the following five genera: Dinebra with 23 species, Diplachne with two species, Disakisperma with three species, Leptochloa s.s. with five species and a new genus, Trigonochloa, with two species.