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Am J Bot. 2004 Feb;91(2):254-61. doi: 10.3732/ajb.91.2.254.

Molecular evidence for bicontinental hybridogenous genomic constitution in Lepidium sensu stricto (Brassicaceae) species from Australia and New Zealand.

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Universität Osnabrück, Spezielle Botanik, Barbarastrasse 11, 49076 Osnabrück, Germany;


Lepidium sensu stricto (s.s.) (Brassicaceae) (ca. 150 species) is distributed worldwide with endemic species on every continent. It is represented in Australia and New Zealand by 19 and seven native species, respectively. In the present study we used a nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) phylogeny in comparison with a cpDNA phylogeny to unravel the origin of Australian/New Zealand species. Although phylogenetic relationships within Lepidium s.s. were not fully resolved, the cpDNA data were in agreement with a Californian origin of Lepidium species from Australia/New Zealand. Strongly conflicting signals between the cp- and nuclear DNA phylogenetic analysis clearly indicated hybridogenous genomic constitution of Australian Lepidium s.s. species: All 18 studied Australian/New Zealand Lepidium s.s. species examined shared a Californian cpDNA type. While eleven Australian/New Zealand species appeared to harbor a Californian ITS type, a group of seven species shared a South African ITS type. This pattern is most likely explained by two trans-oceanic dispersals of Lepidium from California and Africa to Australia/New Zealand and subsequent hybridization followed by homogenization of the ribosomal DNA either to the Californian or South African ITS type in the two different lineages. Calibration of our molecular trees indicates a Pliocene/Pleistocene origin of Lepidium in Australia/New Zealand. Low levels of cpDNA and ITS sequence divergence and unresolved topologies within Australian/New Zealand species suggest a rapid and recent radiation of Lepidium after the hybridization event. This coincides with dramatic climatic changes in that geological epoch shaping the composition of the vegetation.

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