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Plant Diversity and Resources

Journal of Systematics and Evolution

Volume 55 Issue 4, Pages 353C364.

Published Online: 21 July 2017

DOI: 10.1111/jse.12271

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Neo- and Paleopolyploidy contribute to the species diversity of Asplenium!the most species-rich genus of ferns

Harald Schneider1,2*, Hong-Mei Liu1, Yan-Fen Chang1, Daniel Ohlsen3, Leon R. Perrie4, Lara Shepherd4, Michael Kessler5, Dirk Karger5,6, Sabine Hennequin7, Jeannine Marquardt2, Stephen Russell2, Stephen Ansell2, Ngan Thi Lu8, Peris Kamau9, Josmaily L┏riga Pineiro10, Ledis Regalado10,11, Jochen Heinrichs10, Atsushi Ebihara12, Alan R. Smith13, and Mary Gibby14

1Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China

2Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK

3School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia

4Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington 6140, New Zealand

5Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Zurich, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland

6Dynamic Macroecology Group, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, 8903 Birmsersdorf, Switzerland

7Institute de Systematique, Evolution, Biodiversite, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris, France

8Department of Botany, Vietnam National Museum of Nature, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, Ha Noi, Vietnam

9Botany Department, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya

10University of Munich (LMU), Department of Biology I, Systematic Botany and Mycology, Geobio-Center, 80638 Munich, Germany

11Instituto de Ecologia y Sistematica, Carretera de Varona 11835 e/ Oriente y Lindero, Calabazar, Boyeros, La Habana, Cuba

12Department of Botany, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tsukuba 305-0005, Japan

13University Herbarium, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

14Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH3 5LR, UK

Keywords: chromosome number; diversification; extinction risk; genome evolution; macroevolution; neopolyploidy; paleopolyploidy


Polyploidy is widely considered as a major process in the evolution of plants but the accumulation of polyploid species diversity is still controversial. Some recent studies proposed increased extinction risk in neopolyploids compared with their diploid ancestors. The high proportion of polyploid ferns is expected to be formed mainly by neopolyploids, whereas paleopolyploid species are predicted to be clustered in clades founded by whole genome duplications. Here, we test this prediction by exploring the evolution of polyploidy in the derived fern family Aspleniaceae. The family has a global distribution and shows the highest frequency of polyploid taxa among all ferns. To test the hypothesis, we obtained a comprehensive phylogeny using chloroplast DNA sequences of 883 specimens representing 292 species. All published chromosome counts were mapped onto this phylogenetic framework in order to explore the evolution of polyploids. We recovered evidence for several whole genome duplications in the history of Aspleniaceae. Phylogenetic relationships of polyploids exceeding the tetraploid level suggest that tetraploid Asplenium species may have replaced their diploid ancestors as the main evolutionary players in some clades of this family.


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