The sweet potato Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. is classified in series Batatas (Choisy) in Convolvulaceae, with 12 other species and an interspecific true hybrid. The phylogenetic relationships of a sweetpotato cultivar and 13 accessions of Ipomoeas in the series Batatas were investigated using the nucleotide sequence variation of the nuclear-encoded β-amylase gene. First, flowers were examined to identify the species, and DNA flow cytometry used to determine their ploidy. The sweetpotato accession was confirmed as a hexaploid, I. tabascana a tetraploid, and all other species were diploids. A 1.1–1.3 kb fragment of the β-amylase gene spanning two exons separated by a long intron was PCR-amplified, cloned, and sequenced. Exon sequences were highly conserved, while the intron yielded large sequence differences. Intron analysis grouped species currently recognized as A and B genome types into separate clades. This grouping supported the prior classification of all the species, with one exception. The species I. tiliacea was previously classified as a B genome species, but this DNA study classifies it as an A genome species. From the intron alignment, sequences specific to both A and B genome species were identified. Exon sequences indicated that I. ramosissima and I. umbraticola were quite different from other A genome species. Placement of I. littoralis was questionable: its introns were similar to other B genome species, but exons were quite different. Exon evolution indicated the B genome species evolved faster than A genome species. Both intron and exon results indicated the B genome species most closely related to sweetpotato (I. batatas) were I. trifida and I. tabascana.
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