The genus Artocarpus (Moraceae) includes approximately 50 species native to the tropics of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Many of the species are utilized locally for their fruit, seeds, and/or timber while two are cultivated circumtropically for their fruit and seeds (breadfruit, A. altilis and jackfruit, A. heterophyllus). Despite the economic importance of Artocarpus species, no phylogenetic analysis of the genus has been undertaken. A phylogenetic hypothesis would be useful for identifying close relatives of the cultivated species in the genus, studying character evolution, and for setting an evolutionary framework for more detailed species level studies such as the work on breadfruit presented here. Breadfruit is a staple crop harvested for either its starchy fruit or proteinaceous seeds. It has been cultivated and improved upon by human selection for millennia in the Pacific Islands, and today hundreds of seedless and seeded cultivars exist. Up to three possible species have been distinguished by various authors to represent the breadfruit. Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg (synonym: A. communis) has been used to encompass a wide range of morphological variation. However, this variation has also been considered to include two additional species, A. camansi and A. mariannensis based on fruit surface and leaf characters. Morphological evidence for hybridization between A. altilis and A. mariannensis also exists from Micronesia where their ranges overlap. A preliminary Artocarpus phylogeny has been generated based on parsimony analysis of nucleotide sequence data from the internal transcribed spacers (ITS1 and 2). The results indicate that Artocarpus is a monophyletic group. The analysis also supports the recognition of three distinct breadfruit species and provides molecular support for hybridization between A. altilis and A. mariannensis. Further investigations into breadfruit relationships are also in progress using AFLPs (Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms) to address biogeographic, taxonomic, and conservation issues.

Key words: AFLP, Artocarpus, biogeography, breadfruit, Moraceae, Oceania