Resolving the unresolved tribe: a molecular phylogenetic framework for the Merremieae (Convolvulaceae).
Tribe Merremieae, as currently circumscribed, comprise c. 120 species classified in seven genera, the largest of which (Merremia) is morphologically heterogeneous. Previous studies, with limited sampling, have suggested that neither Merremieae nor Merremia are monophyletic. In the present study, the monophyly of Merremia and its allied genera was re-assessed, sampling 57 species of Merremieae for the plastid matK, trnL-trnF and rps16 regions and the nuclear internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region. All genera of Merremieae and all major morphotypes in Merremia were represented. Phylogenetic analyses resolve Merremieae in a clade with Ipomoeae, Convolvuleae and Daustinia montana. Merremia is confirmed as polyphyletic and a number of well-supported and morphologically distinct clades in Merremieae are recognized which accommodate most of the species in the tribe. These provide a framework for a generic revision of the assemblage.