J Syst Evol ›› 2019, Vol. 57 ›› Issue (6): 655-669.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12545

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Genetic diversity of Cedrela fissilis (Meliaceae) in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest reveals a complex phylogeographic history driven by Quaternary climatic fluctuations

Érica Mangaravite1,2,3*, Thamyres C. da Silveira1, Alexander Huamán-Mera1,4, Luiz O. de Oliveira1, Alexandra N. Muellner-Riehl5,6, and Jan Schnitzler3,5,6*   

  1. 1Laboratory for Molecular Biology and Phylogeography, Biochemistry Department, Federal University of Viçosa, Viçosa, Minas Gerais State, Brazil
    2Department of Biomedicine, Health Science Center, Centro Universitário Unifaminas, Av. Cristiano Ferreira Varella, 655, Bairro Universitário, Muriaé, Minas Gerais State, Brazil
    3Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK‐F), Frankfurt am Main, Germany
    4Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Engineering, National University of Jaen, 250 Cuzco, Avenue, Jaen, Peru
    5Department of Molecular Evolution and Plant Systematics & Herbarium (LZ), Institute of Biology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany
    6German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle‐Jena‐Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  • Received:2019-05-28 Accepted:2019-09-13 Published:2019-11-01


Quaternary climatic fluctuations have shaped the geographic distribution of lineages, potentially affecting the demography, genetic structure, and patterns of genetic diversity of extant species. Different phylogeographic scenarios have been proposed for plants in neotropical cloud forests during the Last Glacial Maximum based on paleoecological data: the dry refugia hypothesis (DRH) and the moist forest hypothesis. We specifically focus on the Brazilian Atlantic Forest (BAF) range of Cedrela fissilis (Meliaceae), sampling 410 specimens from 50 localities. Our study combines analyses of the genetic diversity, phylogeographic patterns, and past geographic distributions with a particular focus on highland populations. We identified 283 alleles across the 11 microsatellite loci, ranging from 18 to 33 alleles per locus, distributed across five genetic groups. Most populations of C. fissilis from the BAF exhibited a diffuse genetic structure, reflected in low pairwise FST values, which could be the consequence of high gene flow. In addition, the plastid data showed a connection between the western, southern, and eastern populations in the North‐East of Brazil, but no association between genetic data and elevation was observed. Habitat suitability projections over the past 140 000 years showed less fragmentation relative to the present, indicating a higher connectivity and gene flow. Our results provide support for both the moist forest as well as the DRH, suggesting that most likely, a mixture of these processes has acted through space and time.

Key words: climate change, genetic diversity, habitat suitability, microsatellite, mountain, phylogeography