Fabaceae are the third largest angiosperm family, with 765 genera and ∼19 500 species. They are important both economically and ecologically, and global Fabaceae crops are intensively studied in part for their nitrogen-fixing ability. However, resolution of the intrasubfamilial Fabaceae phylogeny and divergence times has remained elusive, precluding a reconstruction of the evolutionary history of symbiotic nitrogen fixation in Fabaceae. Here, we report a highly resolved phylogeny using >1500 nuclear genes from newly sequenced transcriptomes and genomes of 391 species, along with other datasets, for a total of 463 legumes spanning all 6 subfamilies and 333 of 765 genera. The subfamilies are maximally supported as monophyletic. The clade comprising subfamilies Cercidoideae and Detarioideae is sister to the remaining legumes, and Duparquetioideae and Dialioideae are successive sisters to the clade of Papilionoideae and Caesalpinioideae. Molecular clock estimation revealed an early radiation of subfamilies near the K/Pg boundary, marked by mass extinction, and subsequent divergence of most tribe-level clades within ∼15 million years. Phylogenomic analyses of thousands of gene families support 28 proposed putative whole-genome duplication/whole-genome triplication events across Fabaceae, including those at the ancestors of Fabaceae and five of the subfamilies, and further analyses supported the Fabaceae ancestral polyploidy. The evolution of rhizobial nitrogen-fixing nodulation in Fabaceae was probed by ancestral character reconstruction and phylogenetic analyses of related gene families and the results support the hypotheses of one or two switch(es) to rhizobial nodulation followed by multiple losses. Collectively, these results provide a foundation for further morphological and functional evolutionary analyses across Fabaceae.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Plant Science