Subtropical East Asia harbours a large plant diversity that is often attributed to allopatric speciation in this topographically complex region characterized by a relative climate stability. Here, we use observations of Platycarya, a widespread subtropical Asian tree genus, to explore the consequences of past climate stability on species’ evolutionary history in subtropical China. This genus has a controversial taxonomy: while it is now prevailingly treated as monotypic, two species have been originally described, Platycarya strobilacea and P. longipes. Previous information from species distribution models, fossil pollen data and genetic data based on chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) were integrated with newly obtained genetic data from the two putative species. We used both cpDNA (psbA-trnH and trnL-F intergenic spacers, including a partial trnL gene sequence) and nuclear markers. The latter included sequences of the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS1–5.8S–ITS2) of the nuclear ribosomal DNA and random genomic single nucleotide polymorphisms. Using these nuclear genetic markers, we found interspecific genetic divergence fitting with the ‘two species’ scenario and geographically structured intraspecific variation. Using cpDNA markers, we also found geographically structured intraspecific variation. Despite deep inter- and intraspecific genetic divergence, we detected genetic admixture in southwest China. Overall, our findings of genetic divergence within Platycarya support the hypothesis of allopatric speciation. However, episodes of population interconnection were identified, at least in southwest China, suggesting that the genus has had a dynamic population history.
Tree Genetics & Genomes – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 8, 2017
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