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Effects of taxonomic sampling and conflicting signal on the inference of seed plant trees supported in previous molecular analyses were explored using 13 single-locus data sets. Changing the number of taxa in single-locus analyses had limited effects on log likelihood differences between the gnepine (Gnetales plus Pinaceae) and gnetifer (Gnetales plus conifers) trees. Distinguishing among these trees also was little affected by the use of different substitution parameters. The 13-locus combined data set was partitioned into nine classes based on substitution rates. Sites evolving at intermediate rates had the best likelihood and parsimony scores on gnepine trees, and those evolving at the fastest rates had the best parsimony scores on Gnetales-sister trees (Gnetales plus other seed plants). When the fastest evolving sites were excluded from parsimony analyses, well-supported gnepine trees were inferred from the combined data and from each genomic partition. When all sites were included, Gnetales-sister trees were inferred from the combined data, whereas a different tree was inferred from each genomic partition. Maximum likelihood trees from the combined data and from each genomic partition were well-supported gnepine trees. A preliminary stratigraphic test highlights the poor fit of Gnetales-sister trees to the fossil data.

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American Journal of Botany

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