The monocot genera Ledebouria and Drimiopsis belong to the family Hyacinthaceae in the order Asparagales. The aim of this study was to investigate the generic delimitation between the two genera using DNA sequencing, and to investigate the specific delimitation within Ledebouria using both morphological and molecular characters.
For the molecular analysis the Drimiopsis and Ledebouria specimens were sequenced for three chloroplast regions; trnL intron, trnL-F intergenic spacer and trnS-G intergenic spacer. In the strict consensus tree of the combined analysis of the three regions, the two genera each form a monophyletic group (though without any bootstrap or jackknife support), supporting the recognition of two separate genera.
For the morphological investigation 22 Ledebouria specimens were investigated using univariate and multivariate analyses of altogether 19 qualitative and quantitative characters. The analyses of the morphological data provided not enough information for the proposal of a final specific delimitation within Ledebouria, but together with the molecular phylogeny they suggested that six tentative taxa may be identified within the genus Ledebouria; L. kirkii, two groups of broad leaved taxa (L. cordifolia and one unnamed taxon), and three groups within the L. revoluta complex. The characters leaf width, leaf length, perianth segment length, leaf threads, spotting pattern of the leaves and ovary shape seem to be the most important morphological characters for delimiting these taxa. However, more investigations (morphological and molecular) including more specimens from all geographical regions is needed to confirm this result.
Keywords; Drimiopsis, Ledebouria, morphology, DNA sequencing, generic and specific delimitation.