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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 1999 Apr;11(3):401-14.

Molecular phylogeny of the Ceratosolen species pollinating Ficus of the subgenus Sycomorus sensu stricto: biogeographical history and origins of the species-specificity breakdown cases.

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  • 1Laboratoire Populations, Génétique et Evolution, CNRS équipe INRA, Batiment 13, Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, F-91198, France.


The 14 species of Ficus of the subgenus Sycomorus (Moraceae) are invariably pollinated by Ceratosolen species (Hym. Chalcidoidea), which in turn reproduce in the fig florets. They are distributed mostly in continental Africa, Madagascar, and the Mascarene and Comoro Islands, but 1 species extends its geographical range all over the Oriental region. Fig-pollinator relationships are usually strictly species specific, but exceptions to the 'one-to-one' rule occur within the group we studied. In order to understand both the biogeographical history of the Ceratosolen species associated with Ficus of the subgenus Sycomorus and the origins of the specificity breakdown cases, we have used cytochrome b sequences to reconstruct a phylogeny of the fig wasps. The results show that the pollinators from the Malagasy region and those from continental Africa form two distinct clades, which probably diverged after the crossing of the Mozambique Channel by an ancestral population. The Oriental wasp species show strong affinities with the African species. The two species-specificity exceptions are due to different evolutionary events. The occurrence of the two West African pollinators associated with F. sur can be explained by successive speciation events of the mutualistic partner without plant radiation. In contrast, we hypothesize that C. galili shifted by horizontal transfer from an unknown, presumably extinct, Ficus species to F. sycomorus after this native Malagasy fig species colonized Africa.

Copyright 1999 Academic Press.

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