Molecular Phylogenetics, Temporal Diversification, and Principles of Evolution in the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)

T.L.P. Couvreur, A. Franzke, I.A. Al-Shehbaz, F.T. Bakker, M.A. Koch, K. Mummenhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

235 Citations (Scopus)


Brassicaceae is an important family at both the agronomic and scientific level. The family not only inlcudes several model species, but it is also becoming an evolutionary model at the family level. However, resolving the phylogenetic relationships within the family has been problematic, and a large-scale molecular phylogeny in terms of generic sampling and number of genes is still lacking. In particular, the deeper relationships within the family, for example between the three major recognized lineages, prove particularly hard to resolve. Using a slow-evolving mitochondrial marker (nad4 intron 1), we reconstructed a comprehensive phylogeny in generic representation for the family. In addition, and because resolution was very low in previous single marker phylogenies, we adopted a supermatrix approach by concatenating all checked and reliable sequences available on GenBank as well as new sequences for a total 207 currently recognized genera and eight molecular markers representing a comprehensive coverage of all three genomes. The supermatrix was dated under an uncorrelated relaxed molecular clock using a direct fossil calibration approach. Finally, a lineage-through-time-plot and rates of diversification for the family were generated. The resulting tree, the largest in number of genera and markers sampled to date and covering the whole family in a representative way, provides important insights into the evolution of the family on a broad scale. The backbone of the tree remained largely unresolved and is interpreted as the consequence of early rapid radiation within the family. The age of the family was inferred to be 37.6 (24.2–49.4) Ma, which largely agrees with previous studies. The ages of all major lineages and tribes are also reported. Analysis of diversification suggests that Brassicaceae underwent a rapid period of diversification, after the split with the early diverging tribe Aethionemeae. Given the dates found here, the family appears to have originated under a warm and humid climate approximately 37 Ma. We suggest that the rapid radiation detected was caused by a global cooling during the Oligocene coupled with a genome duplication event. This duplication could have allowed the family to rapidly adapt to the changing climate
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-71
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • internal transcribed spacer
  • nuclear ribosomal dna
  • trnl intron sequences
  • arabidopsis-thaliana
  • maximum-likelihood
  • genome duplication
  • divergence times
  • allied genera
  • missing data
  • improves resolution

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