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BACKGROUND: The genus Flaveria has been extensively used as a model to study the evolution of C4 photosynthesis as it contains C3 and C4 species as well as a number of species that exhibit intermediate types of photosynthesis. The current phylogenetic tree of the genus Flaveria contains 21 of the 23 known Flaveria species and has been previously constructed using a combination of morphological data and three non-coding DNA sequences (nuclear encoded ETS, ITS and chloroplast encoded trnL-F). RESULTS: Here we developed a new strategy to update the phylogenetic tree of 16 Flaveria species based on RNA-Seq data. The updated phylogeny is largely congruent with the previously published tree but with some modifications. We propose that the data collection method provided in this study can be used as a generic method for phylogenetic tree reconstruction if the target species has no genomic information. We also showed that a "F. pringlei" genotype recently used in a number of labs may be a hybrid between F. pringlei (C3) and F. angustifolia (C3-C4). CONCLUSIONS: We propose that the new strategy of obtaining phylogenetic sequences outlined in this study can be used to construct robust trees in a larger number of taxa. The updated Flaveria phylogenetic tree also supports a hypothesis of stepwise and parallel evolution of C4 photosynthesis in the Flavaria clade.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Evol Biol

Publication Date





Amino Acid Sequence, Biological Evolution, Chloroplasts, Flaveria, Photosynthesis, Phylogeny, RNA, Plant, Sequence Analysis, RNA