Conserved genetic regions across angiosperms as tools to develop single-copy nuclear markers in gymnosperms: an example using cycads.
Angiosperm systematics has progressed to the point where it is now expected that multiple, independent markers be used in phylogenetic studies. Universal primers for amplifying informative regions of the chloroplast genome are readily available, but in the faster-evolving nuclear genome it is challenging to discover priming sites that are conserved across distantly related taxa. With goals including the identification of informative markers in rosids, and perhaps other angiosperms, we screened 141 nuclear primer combinations for phylogenetic utility in two distinct groups of rosids at different taxonomic levels-Psiguria (Cucurbitaceae) and Geraniaceae. We discovered three phylogenetically informative regions in Psiguria and two in Geraniaceae, but none that were useful in both groups. Extending beyond rosids, we combined our findings with those of another recent effort testing these primer pairs in Asteraceae, Brassicaceae, and Orchidaceae. From this comparison, we identified 32 primer combinations that amplified regions in representative species of at least two of the five distantly related angiosperm families, giving some prior indication about phylogenetic usefulness of these markers in other flowering plants. This reduced set of primer pairs for amplifying low-copy nuclear markers along with a recommended experimental strategy provide a framework for identifying phylogenetically informative regions in angiosperms.