J Syst Evol ›› 2024, Vol. 62 ›› Issue (2): 257-274.DOI: 10.1111/jse.13062

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Phylogenomics of Puya (Bromeliaceae): Evolution in the Andean slopes and sky island ecosystems

Julián Aguirre-Santoro1*, Alejandro Zuluaga2, Emma Stonesmyth3, Julio Betancur1, and Rachel S. Jabaily3   

  1. 1 Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional de Colombia Sede Bogotá, Carrera 30 No. 45-03, Edificio 425, Bogota, Colombia;
    2 Departamento de Biología, Universidad del Valle, Calle 13, #100-00, Cali, Colombia;
    3 Department of Organismal Biology & Ecology, Colorado College, 14 E. Cache la Poudre St., Colorado Springs 80903, CO, USA
    *Author for correspondence. E-mail:jaaguirresa@unal.edu.co
  • Received:2023-07-04 Accepted:2024-01-31 Online:2024-03-08 Published:2024-03-01

Abstract: Phylogenomics enhances our understanding of plant radiations in the biodiverse Andes. Our study focuses on Puya, primarily Andean and a part of the Bromeliaceae family. Using a phylogenomic framework based on the Angiosperms353 probe set for 80 species, we explored Puya′s phenotypic evolution and biogeography. Divergence time analyses and ancestral area estimations suggested that Puya originated in Central Coastal Chile around 9 million years ago (Ma). Subsequently, it dispersed to the dry valleys of the Central Andes and Puna regions between 5–8 Ma, leading to the emergence of major lineages. Key events in the last 2–4 million years include the recolonization of Chilean lowlands and dispersal to the northern Andes via Peru's Jalcas, facilitating passage through the Huancabamba depression. This event gave rise to the high-elevation Northern Andes clade. Using phylogenetic comparative methods, we tested the hypothesis that adaptation to the Andes' island-like high-elevation ecosystems was facilitated by unique leaf and floral traits, life history, and inflorescence morphology. Our findings suggest correlations between inflorescence axis compression, protective bract overlap, and high-elevation living, potentially preventing reproductive structure freezing. Semelparity evolved exclusively at high elevations, although its precise adaptive value remains uncertain. Our framework offers insights into Andean evolution, highlighting that lineages adapted to life in dry ecosystems can easily transition to high-elevation biomes. It also underscores how the island-like nature of high-elevation ecosystems influences phenotypic evolution rates. Moreover, it opens avenues to explore genetic mechanisms underlying adaptation to extreme mountain conditions.

Key words: Angiosperms353, high-elevation plants, inflorescence evolution, inter-Andean valleys, life history, target enrichment