Circumscription of the East Asia clade (Apiaceae subfamily Apioideae) and the taxonomic placements of several problematic genera

Jing Zhou, Xinyue Wang, Shilin Zhou, Junmei Niu, Jiarui Yue, Zhenwen Liu, Stephen R. Downie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The East Asia (or Physospermopsis) clade was recognized in previous molecular phylogenetic investigations into the higher-level relationships of Apiaceae subfamily Apioideae. The composition of this clade, the phylogenetic relationships among its constituent taxa, and the placement of species previously determined to be problematic have yet to be resolved. Herein, nrDNA ITS sequences were obtained for 150 accessions of Apioideae, representing species whose distributions are in East Asia or genera having one or more species included within the East Asia clade. These data, along with published ITS sequences from other Apioideae (for 3678 accessions altogether), were subjected to maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference analyses. The results show that the East Asia clade contains representatives of 11 currently recognized genera: Hansenia, Hymenolaena, Keraymonia, Sinolimprichtia, Acronema, Hymenidium, Physospermopsis, Pimpinella, Sinocarum, Tongoloa, and Trachydium. However, the latter seven genera have members falling outside of the East Asia clade, including the generic types of all except Tongoloa. Within the clade, the species comprising these seven genera are widely intermingled, greatly increasing confusion among relationships than previously realized. The problematic species Physospermopsis cuneata is confirmed as falling within the East Asia clade, whereas P. rubrinervis allies with the generic type in tribe Pleurospermeae. Physospermopsis kingdon-wardii is confirmed as a member of the genus Physospermopsis, whereas the generic attributions of P. cuneata and Tongoloa stewardii remain unclear. Two species of Sinocarum (S. filicinum and S. wolffianum) are transferred into the genus Meeboldia. This is the most comprehensive molecular phylogenetic investigation of the East Asia clade to date, and while the results increase systematic understanding of the clade, they also highlight the need for further studies of one of the most taxonomically intractable groups in Apioideae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-218
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Diversity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • Physospermopsis
  • Pimpinella
  • Sinocarum
  • Tongoloa
  • Trachydium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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