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Am J Bot. 2004 Mar;91(3):465-73. doi: 10.3732/ajb.91.3.465.

Post-glacial history of Trillium grandiflorum (Melanthiaceae) in eastern North America: inferences from phylogeography.

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  • 1Department of Botany, University of Toronto, 25 Willcocks St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3B2.


Dispersal and migration are important processes affecting the evolutionary history and genetics of species. Here we investigate post-glacial migration and gene flow in Trillium grandiflorum (Melanthiaceae), a wide-ranging, forest herb from eastern North America. Using phylogeographic approaches, we examined cpDNA and allozyme diversity in 35 populations of T. grandiflorum sampled from throughout the geographic range of the species. Nested clade analysis (NCA) of cpDNA haplotypes indicated that T. grandiflorum likely survived in two refugia in the southeastern US during the last glaciation and that long-distance dispersal characterized the post-glacial recolonization of northern areas. There was no evidence for reduced allozyme diversity in populations from glaciated compared to ice-free regions, probably because of the greater abundance and larger effective size of populations in the north. An analysis of isolation-by-distance based on the allozyme data suggested a pattern of population differentiation consistent with restricted gene flow. Notwithstanding the significance of rare seed dispersal events for migration, a comparison of allozyme and cpDNA genetic structure indicates that pollen flow between populations is more likely than seed dispersal. These results for T. grandiflorum represent the first phylogeographic analysis of a temperate woodland herb in eastern North America and support the importance of occasional long-distance dispersal events in the post-glacial migration of plants.

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