Evolutionary Relationships and Fossil History in the Legume Family


The legume family, which includes important crop plants (e.g., beans, peas, and soybeans) and many other economically important species, is the third largest plant family, with approximately 800 genera and over 19,000 species found in all parts of the world. In addition to being a source for economically important plants, the family is also important because legumes dominate many tropical ecosystems. An international team of legume specialists, working under the group name “Legume Phylogeny Working Group” is working to develop a better understanding of the diversity and evolutionary relationships in this important family. This collaborative team has published a new subfamily classification system for the family, and is now focused on major lineages within each of these subfamilies. Research on the fossil history of the legume family is focused on the early history of the family, especially Paleocene and Early Eocene age fossils. (Herendeen).