Journal of Systematics and Evolution (JSE) established Awards of JSE Outstanding Papers in 2014 to recognize the most significant research published in JSE in a specific year (Ge & Wen, 2015). Since 2015, JSE has awarded papers each year in two categories (two papers in each): JSE Outstanding Papers and JSE Outstanding Papers by Young Investigators. The selection of the awards was based on votes and assessments from all 17 editors of the journal with the consideration of citation data from Thomson Reuters Web of Science and the impact on systematics and evolution. First authors who received their Ph.D. degree within 7 years are eligible for the JSE Young Investigators′ Awards. The winners of the Awards receive a certificate and a prize of $800 (JSE Outstanding Papers) or $500 (JSE Outstanding Papers by Young Investigators). Here we are delighted to announce the four winners of the Awards of JSE Outstanding papers selected from JSE publications in 2019 and we highlight the significance of these papers below.
JSE Outstanding Papers for 2019:
Rabah et al.: Passiflora plastome sequencing reveals widespread genomic rearrangements.
As the largest genus within Passifloraceae, Passiflora L. consists of over 565 species with high diversified habits such as vines, lianas, shrubs, and small trees, and includes many economically important species that are cultivated worldwide (Rabah et al., 2019). Previous studies detected remarkable differences in plastomic changes in this genus and included Passiflora as one of several lineages that have highly rearranged plastomes. Despite these, knowledge about plastome organization in the genus remains limited. In this study, Rabah et al. (2019) completed the assembly of plastome sequences for 15 Passiflora species representing three subgenera and found that Passiflora plastomes had experienced multiple independent and shared inversions, gene and intron losses, and IR expansion and contraction, which resulted in a distinct plastome organization in each of the three subgenera. Remarkably, the authors show that Passiflora plastomes have experienced widespread genomic changes with the plastomes from each Passiflora subgenus being unique in terms of gene content, order, and size. The findings in this study, in conjunction with previous reports on other species, demonstrate the importance of using rare genomic changes for phylogenetic reconstruction with caution, because these events can occur independently in different lineages and may be unreliable phylogenetic characters.
Martin-Bravo et al.: A tale of worldwide success: Behind the scenes of Carex (Cyperaceae) biogeography and diversification.
The sedge genus Carex L. has roughly 2000 species with a nearly cosmopolitan distribution and is among the three largest angiosperm genera in the world. Although substantial progress has been made on the phylogenetic history of the genus and the biogeography of particular groups, a global analysis of Carex biogeography and diversification is still lacking. Martín-Bravo et al. (2019) performed a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis by sampling two-thirds of the Carex species and all recognized sections in the genus. They revealed that Carex originated in the late Eocene in eastern Asia that was suggested to be both the cradle and museum of Carex diversification. Later synchronous diversification during the late Oligocene, that is, the “out-of-Asia” colonization features multiple asymmetric dispersals clustered toward present times among the Northern Hemisphere regions, with major regions acting both as source and sink (especially Asia and North America), as well as several independent colonization events into the Southern Hemisphere. Although some interesting questions regarding why Carex diversity is apportioned as it is across the globe remain to be answered, results arising from this work provide important new insights into understanding the biogeography and diversification of the genus, serving as the foundation for subsequent analyses of the patterns and mechanisms of Carex colonization and diversification across the globe.
JSE Outstanding Papers by Young Investigators for 2019:
Medina et al.: Phylogenomic delineation of Physcomitrium (Bryophyta: Funariaceae) based on targeted sequencing of nuclear exons and their flanking regions.
Funariaceae are a diverse and cosmopolitan family of more than 250 species of annual mosses and constitute an appropriate case study to analyze recurrent morphological reversals because this family underwent a rapid diversification with many species exhibiting variable sporophyte complexities. This study assessed the phylogenetic relationships of five taxa with highly reduced sporophytes based on analyses of sequences of 648 nuclear loci. Based on inferences from concatenated data and concordance analysis of single gene trees, Medina et al. (2019) resolved that Physcomitrellopsis was nested within one clade of Entosthodon and indicated that Physcomitrella s. l. was a polyphyletic assemblage. Thus, they proposed a new monophyletic delineation of Physcomitrium, which accommodated the Physcomitrella and Aphanorrhegma species. These results will enhance our understanding of the sporophyte complexity and the evolution of the moss body as a whole.
Jia et al.: First fossil record of Cedrelospermum (Ulmaceae) from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau: Implications for morphological evolution and biogeography.
Of three lines of evidence for exploring morphological evolution and biogeographical history of plants, fossils are the only evidence for the case of extinct species and thus records of fossil plants are key to understand plant migration, radiation, and extirpation that have shaped phytogeographic patterns in plants (Jia et al., 2019; Liu & Manchester, 2019). As an extinct genus in the elm family, Cedrelospermum Saporta has left abundant fossil records in North America and Europe but sparse records in Asia, which limits the explorations of the evolutionary history of the genus and the family Ulmaceae. Jia et al. (2019) reported the first fossil record of Cedrelospermum in the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau (QTP) by describing well-preserved fruits (Cedrelospermum tibeticum sp. nov.) and a leaf (Cedrelospermum sp.) of Cedrelospermum. They showed that this genus occurred in this region during the late Oligocene and indicated that the central region of the QTP was phytogeographically linked with other parts of the Northern Hemisphere during the late Oligocene, thus supporting the hypothesis that Cedrelospermum migrated to Asia from North America by way of the Bering Land Bridge. Based on these observations, the authors discussed the significance of the new fossil findings for the morphological evolution and biogeographical history in general.
We want to congratulate the authors of the above four awarded papers for their important contributions to systematics and evolution! We cordially invite the many colleagues in systematics and evolution to submit their first-rate research to JSE in the coming years.