Table of Contents
  • Volume 58 Issue 5

    Special issue: In Memory of Professor Tang Yan-Cheng: New Perspectives in Systematic and Evolutionary Biology

    Cover illustration: Berneuxia thibetica Decne. (Diapensiaceae) reflects the focus of this special issue in memory of Professor Tang Yan-Cheng, who studied the family (see Xiang et al., pp 527–532). It is included in the study of Ye et al., pp 696–709 in this issue. Berneuxia thibetica Decne., characterized by shiny leaves and showy flowers, occurs in moist meadows and on ledges and cliffs at 1700–3500 m above sea level. Photograph by Yao-Hua Huang.
      Issue Information
    • 2020, 58 (5): 1–4
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    • Editorial
    • Qiu-Yun(jenny) Xiang, Zhi-Duan Chen, Bao-Hua Song, and David E. Boufford
      2020, 58 (5): 527–532
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      In China, three institutes for botanical research were established in the 1920s. They were the Department of Botany, Biological Laboratory of the Science Society of China (1922, Nanjing), the Fan Memorial Institute of Biology (1928, Beiping), and the Institute of Botany, Beiping Academy of Sciences (1929, Beiping).

    • Review
    • Jill T. Anderson and Bao-Hua Song
      2020, 58 (5): 533–545
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      Climate change poses critical challenges for population persistence in natural communities, for agriculture and environmental sustainability, and for food security. In this review, we discuss recent progress in climatic adaptation in plants. We evaluate whether climate change exerts novel selection and disrupts local adaptation, whether gene flow can facilitate adaptive responses to climate change, and whether adaptive phenotypic plasticity could sustain populations in the short term. Furthermore, we discuss how climate change influences species interactions. Through a more in‐depth understanding of these eco‐evolutionary dynamics, we will increase our capacity to predict the adaptive potential of plants under climate change. In addition, we review studies that dissect the genetic basis of plant adaptation to climate change. Finally, we highlight key research gaps, ranging from validating gene function to elucidating molecular mechanisms, expanding research systems from model species to other natural species, testing the fitness consequences of alleles in natural environments, and designing multifactorial studies that more closely reflect the complex and interactive effects of multiple climate change factors. By leveraging interdisciplinary tools (e.g., cutting‐edge omics toolkits, novel ecological strategies, newly developed genome editing technology), researchers can more accurately predict the probability that species can persist through this rapid and intense period of environmental change, as well as cultivate crops to withstand climate change, and conserve biodiversity in natural systems.

    • Research Articles
    • Andrew L. Pais, Ross W. Whetten, and Qiu-Yun (Jenny) Xiang
      2020, 58 (5): 546–570

      Understanding the consequences of exotic diseases on native forests is important to evolutionary ecology and conservation biology because exotic pathogens have drastically altered US eastern deciduous forests. Cornus florida L. (flowering dogwood tree) is one such species facing heavy mortality. Characterizing the genetic structure of C. florida populations and identifying the genetic signature of adaptation to dogwood anthracnose (an exotic pathogen responsible for high mortality) remain vital for conservation efforts. By integrating genetic data from genotype by sequencing (GBS) of 289 trees across the host species range and distribution of disease, we evaluated the spatial patterns of genetic variation and population genetic structure of C. florida and compared the pattern to the distribution of dogwood anthracnose. Using genome‐wide association study and gradient forest analysis, we identified genetic loci under selection and associated with ecological and diseased regions. The results revealed signals of weak genetic differentiation of three or more subgroups nested within two clusters—explaining up to 2%–6% of genetic variation. The groups largely corresponded to the regions within and outside the eastern Hot‐Continental ecoregion, which also overlapped with areas within and outside the main distribution of dogwood anthracnose. The fungal sequences contained in the GBS data of sampled trees bolstered visual records of disease at sampled locations and were congruent with the reported range of Discula destructiva, suggesting that fungal sequences within‐host genomic data were informative for detecting or predicting disease. The genetic diversity between populations at diseased vs. disease‐free sites across the range of C. florida showed no significant difference. We identified 72 single‐nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 68 loci putatively under selection, some of which exhibited abrupt turnover in allele frequencies along the borders of the Hot‐Continental ecoregion and the range of dogwood anthracnose. One such candidate SNP was independently identified in two prior studies as a possible L‐type lectin‐domain containing receptor kinase. Although diseased and disease‐free areas do not significantly differ in genetic diversity, overall there are slight trends to indicate marginally smaller amounts of genetic diversity in disease‐affected areas. Our results were congruent with previous studies that were based on a limited number of genetic markers in revealing high genetic variation and weak population structure in C. florida.

    • Wenbin Zhou, Qiu-Yun (Jenny) Xiang, and Jun Wen
      2020, 58 (5): 571–603

      Nyssa (Nyssaceae, Cornales) represents a classical example of the well‐known eastern Asian–eastern North American floristic disjunction. The genus consists of three species in eastern Asia, four species in eastern North America, and one species in Central America. Species of the genus are ecologically important trees in eastern North American and eastern Asian forests. The distribution of living species and a rich fossil record of the genus make it an excellent model for understanding the origin and evolution of the eastern Asian–eastern North American floristic disjunction. However, despite the small number of species, relationships within the genus have remained unclear and have not been elucidated using a molecular approach. Here, we integrate data from 48 nuclear genes, fossils, morphology, and ecological niche to resolve species relationships, elucidate its biogeographical history, and investigate the evolution of morphology and ecological niches, aiming at a better understanding of the well‐known EA–ENA floristic disjunction. Results showed that the Central American (CAM) Nyssa talamancana was sister to the remaining species, which were divided among three, rapidly diversified subclades. Estimated divergence times and biogeographical history suggested that Nyssa had an ancestral range in Eurasia and western North America in the late Paleocene. The rapid diversification occurred in the early Eocene, followed by multiple dispersals between and within the Erasian and North American continents. The genus experienced two major episodes of extinction in the early Oligocene and end of Neogene, respectively. The Central American N. talamancana represents a relic lineage of the boreotropical flora in the Paleocene/Eocene boundary that once diversified in western North America. The results supported the importance of both the North Atlantic land bridge and the Bering land bridge (BLB) for the Paleogene dispersals of Nyssa and the Neogene dispersals, respectively, as well as the role of Central America as refugia of the Paleogene flora. The total‐evidence‐based dated phylogeny suggested that the pattern of macroevolution of Nyssa coincided with paleoclimatic changes. We found a number of evolutionary changes in morphology (including wood anatomy and leaf traits) and ecological niches (precipitation and temperature) between the EA–ENA disjunct, supporting the ecological selection driving trait evolutions after geographic isolation. We also demonstrated challenges in phylogenomic studies of lineages with rapid diversification histories. The concatenation of gene data can lead to inference of strongly supported relationships incongruent with the species tree. However, conflicts in gene genealogies did not seem to impose a strong effect on divergence time dating in our case. Furthermore, we demonstrated that rapid diversification events may not be recovered in the divergence time dating analysis using BEAST if critical fossil constraints of the relevant nodes are not available. Our study provides an example of complex bidirectional exchanges of plants between Eurasia and North America in the Paleogene, but “out of Asia” migrations in the Neogene, to explain the present disjunct distribution of Nyssa in EA and ENA.

    • Kira Lindelof, Julieta A. Lindo, Wenbin Zhou, Xiang Ji, Qiu-Yun (Jenny) Xiang
      2020, 58 (5): 604–645

      The eastern Asian (EA)–eastern North American (ENA) floristic disjunction represents a major pattern of phytogeography of the Northern Hemisphere. Despite 20 years of studies dedicated to identification of taxa that display this disjunct pattern, its origin and evolution remain an open question, especially regarding post‐isolation evolution. The blue‐ or white‐fruited dogwoods (BW) are the most species‐rich among the four major clades of Cornus L., consisting of ~35 species divided into three subgenera (subg. Yinquania, subg. Mesomora, and subg. Kraniopsis). The BW group provides an excellent example of the EA–ENA floristic disjunction for biogeographic study due to its diversity distribution centered in eastern Asia and eastern North America, yet its species relationships and delineation have remained poorly understood. In this study, we combined genome‐wide markers from RAD‐seq, morphology, fossils, and climate data to understand species relationships, biogeographic history, and ecological niche and morphological evolution. Our phylogenomic analyses with RAxML and MrBayes recovered a strongly supported and well‐resolved phylogeny of the BW group with three intercontinental disjunct clades in EA and ENA or Eurasia and North America, of which two are newly identified within subg. Kraniopsis. These analyses also recovered a potential new species but failed to resolve relationships within the C. hemsleyiC. schindleri complex. In an effort to develop an approach to reduce computation time, analysis of different nodal age settings in treePL suggests setting a node's minimum age constraint to the lower bound of a fossil's age range to obtain similar ages to that of BEAST. Divergence time analyses with BEAST and treePL dated the BW stem back to the very Late Cretaceous and the divergence of the three subgenera in the Paleogene. By integrating fossil ages and morphology, a total evidence‐based dating approach was used in conjunction with time‐slice probabilities of dispersal under a DEC model to resolve ancestral ranges of each disjunct in the Miocene: Eurasia and ENA (disjunct 1), EA and western North America (disjunct 2), and EA (disjunct 3). The dated biogeographic history supports dispersal via the North Atlantic Land Bridge in the late Paleogene in disjunct 1 and dispersal via the Bering Land Bridge in the Miocene for disjuncts 2 and 3. Character mapping with a stochastic model in phytools and comparison of ecological niche, morphospace, and rate of evolution indicated differential divergence patterns in morphology, ecological niche, and molecules between disjunct sisters. Although morphological stasis was observed in most of the characters, evolutionary changes in growth habit and some features of leaf, flower, and fruit morphology occurred in one or both sister clades. A significant differentiation of ecological habitats in temperature, precipitation, and elevation between disjunct sisters was observed, suggesting a role of niche divergence in morphological evolution post‐isolation. The patterns of evolutionary rate between morphology and molecules varied among disjunct clades and were not always congruent between morphology and molecules, suggesting cases of non‐neutral morphological evolution driven by ecological selection. Our phylogenetic evidence and comparisons of evolutionary rate among disjunct lineages lend new insights into the formation of the diversity anomaly between EA and ENA, with particular support of an early diversification in EA. These findings, in conjunction with previous studies, again suggest that the EA–ENA disjunct floras are an assembly of lineages descended from the Mesophytic Forests that evolved from the early Paleogene “boreotropical flora” through varied evolutionary pathways across lineages.

    • Michelle L. Gaynor, Chao-Nan Fu, Lian-Ming Gao, Li-Min Lu, Douglas E. Soltis, and Pamela S. Soltis
      2020, 58 (5): 646–662

      Diapensiaceae (Ericales) are a small family of about 15 species. Within this clade, two species are broadly distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere, whereas the remaining species have a disjunct distribution between eastern North America and eastern Asia. To address patterns and processes of diversification in Diapensiaceae, we conducted biogeographic analyses and inferred shifts in the ecological niche across the phylogeny of the clade. Although Diapensiaceae have been the focus of multiple phylogenetic and biogeographic studies, previous studies have been taxonomically limited. This study has greatly improved the phylogenetic underpinning for Diapensiaceae with the most inclusive taxonomic sampling thus far, employing both nuclear and plastid gene sequence data for at least one sample per species in the family. Our estimates indicate that genera of Diapensiaceae variously diverged in the Eocene, Oligocene, and early to mid‐Miocene. The biogeographic analysis suggests that the probable ancestor of the Diapensiaceae crown clade originated in the Nearctic, with vicariance events contributing to the current distribution of the disjunct taxa. Ecological niche, when considered in a phylogenetic context, was observed to be clustered on the basis of biogeographic realm. In general, a greater ecological overlap was found at younger nodes and a greater niche divergence was found among distantly related species. Diversification in Diapensiaceae appears to have been shaped by both large‐scale biogeographic factors, such as vicariance, and divergence in an ecological niche among closely related species.

    • Hai-Hua Hu, Bing Liu, Yi-Shuo Liang, Jian-Fei Ye, Saddam Saqib, Zhen Meng, Li-Min Lu, and Zhi-Duan Chen
      2020, 58 (5): 663–672

      Large‐scale phylogenies provide a framework for interdisciplinary investigations in taxonomy, evolutionary biology, biogeography, ecology, and conservation. Integration of regional tree of life and species distribution data has greatly promoted spatial phylogenetic studies on biodiversity, floristic assembly, and biogeographic regionalization. In this study, we updated the phylogenetic tree of Chinese vascular plants by integrating data from public databases and sequences newly generated by our laboratory, to facilitate the exploration of floristic and ecological questions at a country scale. A phylogenetic tree with 15 092 tips and 14 878 species was obtained, including 13 663 species (44.0%) and 2953 genera (95.7%) native to China. Only two families (Corsiaceae and Mitrastemonaceae) and 133 genera native to China are not sampled in this study. Low proportion of sampling is detected in orders with high species diversity and those with low species diversity. The Hengduan Mountains, plus the western Qinghai–Tibet Plateau and western Xinjiang, show the greatest gap of target molecular data for angiosperms. Our phylogeny of Chinese vascular plants recovers relationships among and within major lineages that are highly congruent with published phylogenies at a broader scale. Most families (98.7%) are supported as monophyletic, and 573 genera (17.9%) are recognized as non‐monophyletic. Finally, hotspots of phylogenetic diversity for the Chinese angiosperms at both the genus and species levels are identified based on our phylogram, implicating conservation priorities for phylogenetic diversity. The updated phylogeny of Chinese vascular plants is publically available to generate subtrees through our automated phylogeny assembly tool SoTree in the DarwinTree platform (

    • Yu-Bing Wang, Bin-Bin Liu, Ze-Long Nie, Hong-Feng Chen, Fa-Ju Chen, Richard B. Figlar, and Jun Wen
      2020, 58 (5): 673–695

      With more than 300 species, the Magnoliaceae family represents a major Magnoliid lineage that is disjunctly distributed in Asia and the New World. The classification of Magnolia s.l. has been highly controversial among taxonomists, varying from one genus with several subgenera, sections, and subsections to several (up to 16) genera. We conducted a comprehensive phylogenetic study of Magnoliaceae on the basis of sequences of the complete chloroplast genomes with a broad taxon sampling of 86 species. The phylogenetic analyses strongly support 15 major clades within Magnolia s.l. due to the non‐monophyly of subgen. Magnolia, the previous subgeneric treatment that recognizes three subgenera, is not supported. Based on the phylogenetic, morphological, and geographic evidence, we recognize two subfamilies in Magnoliaceae: Liriodendroideae and Magnolioideae, each with one genus, Liriodendron and Magnolia, respectively. Magnolia is herein classified into 15 sections: sects. Magnolia, Manglietia, Michelia, Gwillimia, Gynopodium, Kmeria, Maingola, Oyama, Rytidospermum, Splendentes, Talauma, Tuliparia, Macrophylla, Tulipastrum, and Yulania.

    • Jian-Fei Ye, Yan-Ting Niu, Yan-Lei Feng, Bing Liu, Li-Si Hai, Jun Wen, and Zhi-Duan Chen
      2020, 58 (5): 696–709

      Diapensia L. is the second largest genus of Diapensiaceae. The taxonomic treatment within Diapensia and relationships within Diapensiaceae have been disputed. Chloroplast genome sequence data have proved to be useful for plant phylogenetic analyses and species delimitation. In this study, we de novo sequenced and assembled 22 chloroplast genomes of 15 species of Diapensiaceae, including all recognized species of Diapensia with multiple samples. A super‐matrix containing a total of 107 genes and 18 taxa was constructed for phylogenetic analyses to resolve phylogenetic relationships among genera of the family and within Diapensia. The resulting phylogenetic tree showed the following strongly supported relationships: (Galax, (Pyxidanthera, (Berneuxia, ((Schizocodon, Diapensia), and Shortia s.s.)))). The dated phylogeny and reconstructed lineage‐through‐time plot for the family indicated rapid diversification in the Neogene and an acceleration of diversification rate after c. 8 Ma. Biogeographic analysis suggested that Diapensia originated in the Northeast Asian mountains approximately 6.06 Ma, followed by northward dispersal to the Arctic and southwestward dispersal to the Himalaya–Hengduan Mountains. Phylogenetic relationships within Diapensia were well resolved. Based on the phylogenetic results, we proposed to reinstate the species status of Diapensia bulleyana Forrest ex Diels, and raised D. purpurea f. albida to the species rank (D. albida [W. E. Evans] J. F. Ye comb. & stat. nov.). The distribution ranges of all species delineated based on the phylogenetic results were revised accordingly based on specimen occurrences. Our study adds new examples for the power of plastid genome data for resolving phylogenetic relationships and clarifying taxonomic disputes among closely related species.

    • Jun-Xia Su, Cong-Cong Dong, Yan-Ting Niu, Li-Min Lu, Chao Xu, Bing Liu, Shi-Liang Zhou, An-Ming Lu, Yu-Ping Zhu, Jun Wen, and Zhi-Duan Chen
      2020, 58 (5): 710–724

      Species concept and delimitation are fundamental to taxonomic and evolutionary studies. Both inadequate informative sites in the molecular data and limited taxon sampling have often led to poor phylogenetic resolution and incorrect species delineation. Recently, the whole chloroplast genome sequences from extensive herbarium specimen samples have been shown to be effective to amend the problem. Stachyuraceae are a small family consisting of only one genus Stachyurus of six to 16 species. However, species delimitation in Stachyurus has been highly controversial because of few and generally unstable morphological characters used for classification. In this study, we sampled 69 individuals of seven species (each with at least three individuals) covering the entire taxonomic diversity, geographic range, and morphological variation of Stachyurus from herbarium specimens for genome‐wide plastid gene sequencing to address species delineation in the genus. We obtained high‐quality DNAs from specimens using a recently developed DNA reconstruction technique. We first assembled four whole chloroplast genome sequences. Based on the chloroplast genome and one nuclear ribosomal DNA sequence of Stachyurus, we designed primers for multiplex polymerase chain reaction and high throughput sequencing of 44 plastid loci for species of Stachyurus. Data of these chloroplast DNA and nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer sequences were used for phylogenetic analyses. The phylogenetic results showed that the Japanese species Stachyurus praecox Siebold & Zucc. was sister to the rest in mainland China, which indicated a typical Sino‐Japanese distribution pattern. Based on diagnostic morphological characters, distinct distributional range, and monophyly of each clade, we redefined seven species for Stachyurus following an integrative species concept, and revised the taxonomy of the family based on previous reports and specimens, in particular the type specimens. Furthermore, our divergence time estimation results suggested that Stachyuraceae split from its sister group Crossosomataceae from the New World at ca. 54.29 Mya, but extant species of Stachyuraceae started their diversification only recently at ca. 6.85 Mya. Diversification time of Stachyurus in mainland China was estimated to be ca. 4.45 Mya. This research has provided an example of using the herbarium specimen‐based phylogenomic approach in resolving species boundaries in a taxonomically difficult genus.

    • Review
    • De-Yuan Hong
      2020, 58 (5): 725–742
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      The present article briefly reviewed the prevailing species concepts, especially biological, genetic, evolutionary, phylogenetic, ecological, and several taxonomic species concepts. The former five reflect the properties of species from diverse aspects and in different degrees, while taxonomic species concepts all contain more or less subjective elements, except for Hedberg's taxonomic method (not species concept). So far, there is no species concept that is both theoretically rational and practically operable. The present article outlined recent studies on the genus Paeonia L. (Paeoniaceae) in biology, particularly in morphology, biogeography, molecular phylogeny, and reproductive behavior, which provided insight into the relationship between variation of morphological characteristics and phylogeny. Taking the study on Paeonia L. as a case, referring to studies on some other plant groups, and incorporating the merits of the prevailing species concepts into our consideration, “gen‐morph species concept” is proposed here formally as new for outbreeding organisms. The new species concept has three special features: (i) a bridge linking morphological aspect with genetic and other aspects of species; (ii) proposal of a concrete morphological criterion for species definition, and (iii) considering quantitative and qualitative characteristics as equally valuable for species definition and introducing statistics into the concept to handle such characteristics. Therefore, the gen‐morph species concept is an integrative species concept, both theoretically objective and practically operable.

Song Ge
Jun Wen
Impact Factor
JCR 2022 IF ranking: 60/238 (Plant Sciences, top 25%, Q2 quartile)
Journal Abbreviation: J Syst Evol
ISSN: 1674-4918 (Print)
1759-6831 (Online)
CN: 11-5779/Q
Frequency: Bi-monthly




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