International Botanical Congress edition:17 location:Vienna date:17-23 July 2005
Using a DNA-based tree as the framework, the homology of key taxonomic characters in tribe Cypereae (900 species in 19 genera, the largest of which is Cyperus) is assessed and revisit the question of generic circumscription. Plastid DNA (rbcL gene, rps16 intron, trnL intron and trnL-F intergenic spacer) sequence matrix for 50 species in 19 genera of Cypereae is analysed using the maximum parsimony algorithm of PAUP. Two major groups are observed: the Ficinia and Cyperus clades. The Ficinia clade includes taxa with a center of diversity in the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. These are predominantly perennial herbs (with exception of Isolepis, which is predominantly annual) having non-Kranz (C-3) anatomy and spirally arranged glumes. Species of the Cyperus clade have a predominatly distichous glume arrangement and Kranz anatomy which is either absent (C-3) or present (C-4). Cyperus is the core genus in the Cyperus clade, in which 13 additional segregate genera are embedded. These segregate genera differ from typical Cyperus in one or more of a few gross morphological characters. There are no unambiguous characters separating C-3 and C-4 Cyperus species. The circumscription of Cypereae is broadened to include all taxa with a Cyperus-type embryo and perianth segments. Three taxa possessing perianth segments, namely Hellmuthia membranacea, Scirpus falsus and S. ficinioides, are supported to be closer to Cyperus than to Scirpus.