Molecular and morphological analysis of subfamily Alooideae (Asphodelaceae) and the inclusion of Chortolirion in Aloe
Asphodelaceae subfam. Alooideae (Asparagales) currently comprises five genera, four of which are endemic to southern Africa. Despite their importance in commercial horticulture the evolutionary relationships among the genera are still incompletely understood. This study examines phylogenetic relationships in the subfamily using an expanded molecular sequence dataset from three plastid regions (matK, rbcLa, trnH-psbA) and the first subunit of the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS1). Sequence data were analysed using maximum parsimony and Bayesian statistics, and selected morphological traits were mapped onto the molecular phylogeny. Haworthia is confirmed as being polyphyletic, comprising three main clades that largely correlate with current subgeneric circumscriptions. Astroloba and Gasteria are evidently each monophyletic and sister respectively to Astroloba and H. subg. Robustipedunculares. Chortolirion is shown to be deeply nested within Aloe and is formally included in that genus. Aloe itself is clearly polyphyletic, with the dwarf species A. aristata allied to Haworthia subg. Robustipedunculares. The taxonomic implications of these findings are examined but branch support at critical lower nodes is insufficient at this stage to justify implementing major taxonomic changes. Keywords: Asphodelaceae, ITS1, matK, molecular phylogeny, morphology, nomenclature, rbcLa, trnH-psbA, taxonomy.