The Mexican cotton Gossypium gossypioides is a perplexing entity, with conflicting morphological, cytogenetic, and molecular evidence of its phylogenetic affinity to other American cottons. We reevaluated the evolutionary history of this enigmatic species using 16.4 kb of DNA sequence. Phylogenetic analyses show that chloroplast DNA (7.3 kb), nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacers (ITS; 0.69 kb), and unique nuclear genes (8.4 kb) yield conflicting resolutions for G. gossypioides. Eight low-copy nuclear genes provide a nearly unanimous resolution of G. gossypioides as the basalmost American diploid cotton, whereas cpDNA sequences resolve G. gossypioides deeply nested within the American diploid clade sister to Peruvian G. raimondii, and ITS places G. gossypioides in an African (rather than an American) clade. These data, in conjunction with previous evidence from the repetitive fraction of the genome, implicate a complex history for G. gossypioides possibly involving temporally separated introgression events from genetically divergent cottons that are presently restricted to different hemispheres. Based on repetitive nuclear DNA, it appears that G. gossypioides experienced nuclear introgression from an African species shortly after divergence from the remainder of the American assemblage. More recently, hybridization with a Mexican species may have resulted in cpDNA introgression, and possibly a second round of cryptic nuclear introgression. Gossypium gossypioides provides a striking example of the previously unsuspected chimeric nature of some plant genomes and the resulting phylogenetic complexity produced by multiple historical reticulation events.
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Vol. 57 • No. 11