Bystropogon (Lamiaceae) is endemic to the Macaronesian Islands and represents the best-known example of a putative phytogeographic connection between these islands and the New World. Previous morphological taxonomic studies suggested that this genus is closely related to the western South American Minthostachys. Phylogenetic analyses of nucleotide sequences of the internal transcribed spacers and 5.8S subunit of nuclear ribosomal DNA and the trnL gene and trnL-trnF spacer of the chloroplast genome for 33 of the 72 genera in the Mentheae tribe were performed. Maximum parsimony analysis of the combined data set resulted in 63 most parsimonious trees. The strict consensus tree of this analysis shows with moderate bootstrap support (74%) that Bystropogon is sister to the Old World taxa Acinos, Ziziphora, and Clinopodium vulgare. When analyzed separately, the ITS and trnL/F data sets do not agree as to the sister group to Bystropogon, although none supports a sister relationship with Minthostachys. The cpDNA phylogeny strongly supports a relationship of Bystropogon with a clade of New World mint taxa (90% bootstrap value). Due to the apparent conflict between the chloroplast and nuclear characters observed in the phylogenies, we are not certain of the true biogeographic relationship of Bystropogon. Finally, in all analyses, all of the Mentheae genera sampled in this study form a monophyletic group (100% bootstrap value) and a derived clade of ten New World genera is found. These results contribute to our understanding of generic relationships within the tribe.
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