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Great advances have been made in our understanding of the phylogeny and classification of Agavaceae in the last 20 years. In older systems Agavaceae were paraphyletic due to overemphasis of ovary position or habit. Discovery of a unique bimodal karyotype in Agave and Yucca eventually led to a reexamination of concepts and relationships in all the lilioid monocots, which continues to the present day. Developments in cytogenetics, microscopy, phylogenetic systematics, and most recently DNA technology have led to remarkable new insights. Large-scale rbcL sequence studies placed Agavaceae with the core Asparagales and identified closely related taxa. Analysis of cpDNA restriction sites, rbcL, and ITS nrDNA sequences all supported removal of Dracaenaceae, Nolinaceae, and clarified relationships. Agavaceae s.s. presently consists of Agave, Beschorneria, Furcraea, Hesperaloe, Hesperoyucca, Manfreda, Polianthes, Prochnyanthes, and Yucca. In this paper we analyze recently obtained ndhF sequence data from Agavaceae and Asparagales and discuss the implications for classification. Parsimony analysis of ndhF data alone resolves most genera of Agavaceae and supports the inclusion of Camassia, Chlorogalum, Hesperocallis, and Hosta within Agavaceae s.l. Analysis of combined ndhF and rbcL data sets of selected Asparagales results in better resolution and stronger bootstrap support for many relationships. Combination of all available ndhF, rbcL, and ITS data in a single analysis results in the best resolution currently available for Agavaceae s.l. Implications for classification schemes past and present are discussed.

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© 2006 David J. Bogler, J. Chris Pires, Javier Francisco-Ortega

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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