Terrestrial orchids are a group of genetically understudied, yet culturally and economically important plants. The Orchidinae tribe contains many species that produce edible tubers that are used for the production of traditional delicacies collectively called ‘salep’. Overexploitation of wild orchids in the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia threatens to drive many of these species to extinction, but cost- effective tools for monitoring their trade are currently lacking. Here we present a custom bait kit for target enrichment and sequencing of 205 novel genetic mark- ers that are tailored to phylogenomic applications in Orchidinae s.l. A subset of 31 markers capture genes putatively involved in the production of glucomannan, a water-soluble polysaccharide that gives salep its distinctive properties. We tested the kit on 73 taxa native to the area, demonstrating universally high locus recovery irrespective of species identity, that exceeds the total sequence length obtained with alternative kits currently available. Phylogenetic inference with concatenation and coalescent approaches was robust and showed high levels of support for most clades, including some which were previously unresolved. Resolution for hybridiz- ing and recently radiated lineages remains difficult, but could be further improved by analysing multiple haplotypes and the non-exonic sequences captured by our kit, with the promise to shed new light on the evolution of enigmatic taxa with a complex speciation history. Offering a step-up from traditional barcoding and universal markers, the genome-wide custom loci targeted by Orchidinae-205 are a valuable new resource to study the evolution, systematics and trade of terrestrial orchids.

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Molecular Ecology Resources

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Staff publications

Veltman, M., Anthoons, Bastien, Schrøder‐Nielsen, Audun, Gravendeel, B., & de Boer, Hugo J. (2024). Orchidinae‐205: A new genome‐wide custom bait set for studying the evolution, systematics, and trade of terrestrial orchids. Molecular Ecology Resources, 2024(e13986). doi:10.1111/1755-0998.13986