To clarify the phylogenetic relationships of Carthamus species, we performed sequence analysis of the nuclear stearoyl acyl carrier protein desaturase (SACPD) gene and the chloroplast intergenic spacer region between leucine and phenylalanine tRNA genes (trnL–trnF IGS) in 13 taxa of Carthamus. The previous division of the genus into 4 taxonomic sections and allocation of particular genomes to various taxa on the basis of morphological, cytogenetic, and biosystematic analyses is not supported by the present study. Our results provide evidence of the occurrence of 5 nuclear genomes (A, B, C, X, and Y) and 3 cytoplasm types (A, B, and C) in the genus Carthamus. The cultivated safflower, C. tinctorius (2n = 24), has the B genome and type B cytoplasm. Both of these are not present in the polyploid taxa. This contradicts the earlier view that one of the genomes involved in the origin of the polyploid taxa of Carthamus is the B genome. Comparison with an outgroup species (Cirsium japonicum) indicated that C. arborescens is the most primitive species in the genus. Carthamus palaestinus is genetically closest to the cultivated safflower.
- chloroplast IGS