Eleusine (Poaceae, Chloridoideae) is comprised of nine annual and perennial species of African origin, except for the New World species E. tristachya. The genus includes the allotetraploid cereal crop E. coracana ssp. coracana (finger millet). Previous studies concluded that the phylogenetic relationship among Eleusine species is not well resolved, particularly among the perennials. To address these questions and examine the potential for multiple origins of the polyploids, DNA sequence variation from the nuclear ITS and the plastid trnT-F regions were analyzed and compared. The morphologically distinct E. multiflora and the perennial E. floccifolia share a plesiomorphic large indel with the outgroup species. The annuals E. coracana and E. indica formed a strongly supported lineage. The position of the third annual E. tristachya was inconsistent in the ITS and trnT-F phylogenies. Although the phylogenetic relationships among the annuals is complex in the ITS analysis due to the presence of two loci, the demonstrated relationship sheds light on the evolution of the polyploid species E. coracana ssp. coracana and ssp. africana (wild finger millet).

Key words: Eleusine, finger millet, molecular systematics, polyploidy