The evolutionary history and biogeography of Mimosoideae (Leguminosae): An emphasis on African acacias

Yanis Bouchenak-Khelladi, Olivier Maurin, Johan Hurter, Michelle van der Bank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)


The systematics of Mimosoideae has been in a state of flux, which reflects overall poor knowledge of the evolution and biogeography of this group. Preliminary molecular phylogenetic analyses suggest the tribal system of Mimosoideae needs a complete revision. This has led to the use of new generic names for Acacia sensu lato (s.l. hereafter) following the re-typification of Acacia with an Australian type: (i) Acacia sensu stricto (s.s. hereafter), Vachellia, Senegalia, Acaciella and Mariosousa. This study reconstructs the evolutionary history of Mimosoideae, using the most comprehensive sampling to date, with an emphasis on African species. It aims to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships among the five recognized genera within Acacieae as the precursor to elucidate the paleo-biogeography of mimosoids and their adaptation to open habitats in the Cenozoic. The basal position of Mimoseae lineages with regards to Vachellia and Senegalia+. Mariosousa+. Acaciella+. Ingeae. +. Acacia s.s. clades is a novel finding. Vachellia (formerly Acacia subgenus Acacia) is found monophyletic. A grade including the remaining Mimoseae lineages is found sister to the Senegalia+. Mariosousa+. Acaciella+. Ingeae. +. Acacia s.s. clade. The major clades originated in the late Oligocene-early Miocene (~25. mya). The transitions from close to open habitats occurred during the Miocene for at least four mimosoid lineages. These are interpreted as responses to increased seasonality leading to fire climates and drying trends in the Miocene, which allowed the expansion of open habitats, such as savannas, worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-508
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Acacias
  • Ancestral reconstructions
  • Biogeography
  • Mimosoideae
  • Phylogenetic trees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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