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New insights into intergeneric relationships of Hickeliinae (Poaceae : Bambusoideae) revealed by complete plastid genomes.


Hickeliinae is a Bambusoideae subtribe endemic to Madagascar, Comoros, La Reunion and Tanzania.

Our study provides a comprehensive understanding of Hickeliinae phylogeny at the generic level based on plastome data.

Molecular phylogeny indicates that all genera of Hickeliinae are monophyletic except for Nastus Juss.


The Hickeliinae (Poaceae : Bambusoideae) is an ecologically and economically significant subtribe of tropical bamboos restricted to Madagascar, Comoros, Reunion Island, and a small part of continental Africa (Tanzania). Because these bamboos rarely flower, field identification is challenging, and inferring the evolutionary history of Hickeliinae from herbarium specimens even more so. Molecular phylogenetic work is critical to understanding this group of bamboos. Here, comparative analysis of 22 newly sequenced plastid genomes showed that members of all genera of Hickeliinae share evolutionarily conserved plastome structures. We also determined that Hickeliinae plastome sequences are informative for phylogenetic reconstructions. Phylogenetic analysis showed that all genera of Hickeliinae are monophyletic, except for Nastus, which is paraphyletic and forms two distant clades. The type species of Nastus (Clade II) is endemic to Reunion Island and is not closely related to other sampled species of Nastus endemic to Madagascar (Clade VI). Clade VI (Malagasy Nastus) is sister to the Sokinochloa + Hitchcockella clade (Clade V), and both clades have a clumping habit with short-necked pachymorph rhizomes. The monotypic Decaryochloa is remarkable in having the longest floret in Bambuseae and forms a distinct Clade IV. Clade III, which has the highest generic diversity, consists of Cathariostachys, Perrierbambus, Sirochloa, and Valiha, which are also morphologically diverse. This work provides significant resources for further genetic and phylogenomic studies of Hickeliinae, an understudied subtribe of bamboo.