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Evolutionary history and leaf succulence as explanations for medicinal use in aloes and the global popularity of Aloe vera

Grace, Olwen M., Buerki, Sven, Symonds, Matthew R. E., Forest, Félix, van Wyk, Abraham E., Smith, Gideon F., Klopper, Ronell R., Bjorå, Charlotte S., Neale, Sophie, Demissew, Sebsebe, Simmonds, Monique S.J. and Rønsted, Nina 2015, Evolutionary history and leaf succulence as explanations for medicinal use in aloes and the global popularity of Aloe vera, BMC evolutionary biology, vol. 15, no. 29, pp. 1-12, doi: 10.1186/s12862-015-0291-7.

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Title Evolutionary history and leaf succulence as explanations for medicinal use in aloes and the global popularity of Aloe vera
Author(s) Grace, Olwen M.
Buerki, Sven
Symonds, Matthew R. E.ORCID iD for Symonds, Matthew R. E. orcid.org/0000-0002-9785-6045
Forest, Félix
van Wyk, Abraham E.
Smith, Gideon F.
Klopper, Ronell R.
Bjorå, Charlotte S.
Neale, Sophie
Demissew, Sebsebe
Simmonds, Monique S.J.
Rønsted, Nina
Journal name BMC evolutionary biology
Volume number 15
Issue number 29
Start page 1
End page 12
Total pages 12
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 1471-2148
Keyword(s) Aloe vera
Biogeography
Evolution
Medicinal use
Succulent plants
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Evolutionary Biology
Genetics & Heredity
ASPHODELACEAE SUBFAMILY ALOOIDEAE
PHYLOGENETIC ANALYSES
GENERIC CLASSIFICATION
SEQUENCE ALIGNMENT
GENUS ALOE
XANTHORRHOEACEAE
EXTINCTION
REGIONS
PLANTS
Summary BACKGROUND: Aloe vera supports a substantial global trade yet its wild origins, and explanations for its popularity over 500 related Aloe species in one of the world's largest succulent groups, have remained uncertain. We developed an explicit phylogenetic framework to explore links between the rich traditions of medicinal use and leaf succulence in aloes. RESULTS: The phylogenetic hypothesis clarifies the origins of Aloe vera to the Arabian Peninsula at the northernmost limits of the range for aloes. The genus Aloe originated in southern Africa ~16 million years ago and underwent two major radiations driven by different speciation processes, giving rise to the extraordinary diversity known today. Large, succulent leaves typical of medicinal aloes arose during the most recent diversification ~10 million years ago and are strongly correlated to the phylogeny and to the likelihood of a species being used for medicine. A significant, albeit weak, phylogenetic signal is evident in the medicinal uses of aloes, suggesting that the properties for which they are valued do not occur randomly across the branches of the phylogenetic tree. CONCLUSIONS: Phylogenetic investigation of plant use and leaf succulence among aloes has yielded new explanations for the extraordinary market dominance of Aloe vera. The industry preference for Aloe vera appears to be due to its proximity to important historic trade routes, and early introduction to trade and cultivation. Well-developed succulent leaf mesophyll tissue, an adaptive feature that likely contributed to the ecological success of the genus Aloe, is the main predictor for medicinal use among Aloe species, whereas evolutionary loss of succulence tends to be associated with losses of medicinal use. Phylogenetic analyses of plant use offer potential to understand patterns in the value of global plant diversity.
Language eng
DOI 10.1186/s12862-015-0291-7
Field of Research 060309 Phylogeny and Comparative Analysis
060302 Biogeography and Phylogeography
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2015, BioMed Central
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30077341

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.