Main content area

Systematics and evolution of arctic-alpine Arabis alpina (Brassicaceae) and its closest relatives in the eastern Mediterranean

Karl, Robert, Kiefer, Christiane, Ansell, Stephan W., Koch, Marcus A.
American journal of botany 2012 v.99 no.4 pp. 778-794
Arabis alpina, annuals, center of diversity, climate, diploidy, genotype, intergenic DNA, introgression, landscapes, life history, lowlands, mountains, nucleotide sequences, phylogeny, sequence analysis, species diversity, Cyprus, Eurasia
• Premise of the study: The high mountains in southern Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean are assumed to play a major role as a primary center of genetic diversity and species richness in Eurasia. We tested this hypothesis by focusing on the widespread perennial arctic-alpine Arabis alpina and its sympatrically distributed closest relatives in the eastern Mediterranean. • METHODS: Plastid (trnL intron, trnL-F intergenic spacer) and nuclear (ITS) DNA sequence analysis was used for phylogenetic reconstruction. Broad-scale plastid haplotype analyses were conducted to infer ancestral biogeographic patterns. • Key results: Five Arabis species, identified from the eastern Mediterranean (Turkey mainland and Cyprus), evolved directly and independently from A. alpina, leaving Arabis alpina as a paraphyletic taxon. These species are not affected by hybridization or introgression, and species divergence took place at the diploid level during the Pleistocene. • CONCLUSIONS: Pleistocene climate fluctuations produced local altitudinal range-shifts among mountain glacial survival areas, resulting not only in the accumulation of intraspecific genotype diversity but also in the formation of five local species. We also show that the closest sister group of Arabis alpina consists exclusively of annuals/winter annuals and diverged prior to Pleistocene climatic fluctuations during the colonization of the lowland Mediterranean landscape. These findings highlight that Anatolia is not only a center of species richness but also a center for life-history diversification.