Phylogenetic Relationships between Series of Syringa and Support of Ligustrum Relationship inferred from Sequences of Chloroplast DNA

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Jianhua Li, Hope College

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This research was supported by the Lilac Fund and the Harvard subcontract fund.


Syringa or better known as the tree lilacs, are a commonly cultivated plant, but their phylogeny and inter-species molecular relationships are not well known. The Ligustrum are another widely cultivated plant with many morphological similarities with Syringa as suggested by Li et al. There was no molecular evidence for the proposed hypothesis that Ligustrum derive from within Syringa. The purpose of this study is to elucidate their relationships by determining the sequences of different chloroplast genomes. The three regions sequenced are the single copy region 1, 2 and 3. By aligning the sequences and comparing them, more evidence which raised bootstrap values on the previously proposed phylogenetic tree, helped resolve their relationship. The data so far collected supports the derivation of Ligustrum from within Syringa and also suggests close relations between the series pubescentes (small-leaved lilacs) and villosae (late blooming lilacs). More molecular evidence from the chloroplast genomes of the species studied and more samples will be needed to make final conclusions on their relationships.

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