Evolution of the polyploid north-west Iberian Leucanthemum pluriflorum clan (Compositae, Anthemideae) based on plastid DNA sequence variation and AFLP fingerprinting

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Background and Aims

The genus Leucanthemum is a species-rich polyploid complex from southern and central Europe, comprising 41 species with ploidy ranging from 2x to 22x. The present contribution aims at reconstructing the evolutionary history of a geographically isolated species group (the L. pluriflorum clan) from the north-west Iberian Peninsula comprising the diploid L. pluriflorum, the tetraploids L. ircutianum subsp. pseudosylvaticum and L. × corunnense (a putative hybrid taxon based on crossing between L. pluriflorum and L. merinoi), and the hexaploids L. sylvaticum and L. merinoi.


Chromosome number variation (determined flow cytometrically) and sequence variation were analysed for two intergenic spacer regions on the plastid genome (psbA-trnH and trnC-petN) for individuals from 54 populations in combination with amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) fingerprinting of 246 representative individuals from these populations.

Key Results

Plastid sequence data revealed that all surveyed members of the L. pluriflorum clan possess plastid haplotypes that are closely related to each other and distinctly separated from other Leucanthemum species. AFLP fingerprinting resulted in allopolyploid fragment patterns for most of the polyploid populations, except for the tetraploid L. × corunnense and a further tetraploid population in northern Galicia, which cluster with the diploids rather than with the other polyploids. In silico modelling of (auto)tetraploid AFLP genotypes further corroborates the allopolyploid nature of L. ircutianum subsp. pseudosylvaticum, L. sylvaticum and L. merinoi.


The present study provides evidence for recognizing one diploid (L. pluriflorum), one autotetraploid (L. corunnense), one allotetraploid (L. pseudosylvaticum) and one allohexaploid (L. sylvaticum with the two geographically and ecologically differentiated subspecies subsp. sylvaticum and subsp. merinoi) in the L. pluriflorum clan. It also has implications for the understanding of biogeographical patterns in the Iberian Peninsula.

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