The Phylogenetic Position of Crenea in the Lythraceae Based on Molecular Evidence, and the Transfer of Its Two Species to Ammannia

  • Shirley A. Graham Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Peter W. Inglis Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology
  • Taciana B. Cavalcanti Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology
Keywords: Dispersal, mangroves, molecular phylogenetics, South American flora


Crenea Aubl. (Lythraceae) is a ditypic genus of subshrubs occurring in mangrove vegetation on the coasts of northern South America. Phylogenetic analyses based on morphology have offered unresolved and conflicting phylogenetic positions for the genus in the family. This study presents the first molecular sequences for Crenea, from nrITS, rbcL, trnL, trnL-F, and matK regions. Molecular phylogenetic analyses find full support for Crenea within Ammannia L., a relationship not previously recognized. Ammannia is a globally distributed genus of terrestrial to amphibious herbs mostly occurring in freshwater marshes and wetlands. It was recently reconfigured based on phylogenetic evidence to include the genera Nesaea Comm. ex Kunth and Hionanthera A. Fern. & Diniz. The transfer of Crenea to Ammannia further extends the morphological, ecological, and biogeographical diversity of Ammannia and provides the final evidence defining Ammannia as a monophyletic lineage of the Lythraceae. A revised circumscription of Ammannia s.l. adds several new morphological character states and the first species in the genus restricted to mangrove vegetation. Two changes in taxonomic status are made: Ammannia maritima (Aubl.) S. A. Graham, P. W. Inglis, & T. B. Cavalc., comb. nov., and Ammannia patentinervius (Koehne) S. A. Graham, P. W. Inglis, & T. B. Cavalc., comb. nov. The new combinations are described, a list of exsiccatae examined is provided, and the effects of the reconfiguration to the morphology and biogeography of the genus are detailed.