J Syst Evol

• Research Article •    

Seeking the identity of an enigmatic moss by embracing phylogenomics

Pablo Aguado‐Ramsay1,2, Tamara Villaverde3, Ricardo Garilleti4, J. Gordon Burleigh5, Stuart F. McDaniel5, Maren Flagmeier1, Jurgen Nieuwkoop6, Arno van der Pluijm7, Florian Hans8, Francisco Lara1,9†*, and Isabel Draper1,9†   

  1. 1 Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, C. Darwin, 2, Madrid 28049, Spain;
    2 Doctoral Program in Biology, Doctoral School (EDUAM), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, C. Francisco Tomás y Valiente, 2, Madrid 28049, Spain;
    3 Departamento de Biología, Geología, Física y Química Inorgánica, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, C. Tulipán s/n, Móstoles 28933, Spain;
    4 Departamento de Botánica y Geología, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Valencia, Avda. Vicente Andrés Estelles s/n, Burjassot 46100, Spain;
    5 Department of Biology, University of Florida, 220 Bartram Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611, Florida, USA;
    6 Vluchtheuvelstraat 6, Dreumel, BK 6621, The Netherlands;
    7 Visserskade 10, Hank, GL 4273, The Netherlands;
    8 Kreuzweiler Straße 22, Perl‐Sinz D‐66706, Germany;
    9 Centro de Investigación en Biodiversidad y Cambio Global, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, C. Darwin, 2, Madrid 28049, Spain
    These authors are joint senior authors on this work.
    *Author for correspondence. E‐mail: francisco.lara@uam.es
  • Received:2023-06-30 Accepted:2023-11-13 Online:2023-12-19

Abstract: Currently, a wide range of genomic techniques is available at a relatively affordable price. However, not all of them have been equally explored in bryophyte systematics. In the present study, we apply next-generation sequencing to identify samples that cannot be assigned to a taxon by morphological analysis or by Sanger sequencing methods. These samples correspond to a moss with an enigmatic morphology that has been found throughout Western Europe over the last two decades. They exhibit several anomalies in the gametophyte and, on the rare occasions that they appear, also in the sporophyte. The most significant alterations are related to the shape of the leaves. Morphologically, all specimens correspond to mosses of the genus Lewinskya, and the least modified samples are potentially attributable to the Lewinskya affinis complex. Specimen identifications were first attempted using up to seven molecular markers with no satisfactory results. Thus, we employed data generated from targeted enrichment using the GoFlag 408 flagellate land plant probe set to elucidate their identity. Our results demonstrate that all the enigmatic samples correspond to a single species, L. affinis s.str. This approach provided the necessary resolution to confidently identify these challenging samples and may be a powerful tool for similar cases, especially in bryophytes.

Key words: Bryophyta, GoFlag 408, Lewinskya affinis, Orthotrichaceae, targeted enrichment, taxonomy