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Am J Bot. 2012 Dec;99(12):2014-26. doi: 10.3732/ajb.1200258. Epub 2012 Nov 30.

Diversification of the newly recognized lichen-forming fungal lineage Montanelia (Parmeliaceae, Ascomycota) and its relation to key geological and climatic events.

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  • 1Departamento de Biología Vegetal II, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid 28040, Spain.



In spite of the recent advances in generic and species circumscriptions and in recognizing species diversity in lichen-forming fungi, the timing of speciation and the factors that promote diversification in lichens remain largely unexplored. We used brown parmelioids as a model to assess the timing of divergence and explore the impact of geological and climatic events on lineage divergence and diversification in lichenized fungi. Additionally, to clarify the phylogenetic position of the species currently placed in Melanelia disjuncta group, we evaluated the taxonomic status and phylogenetic relationships within Parmeliaceae. •


Phylogenetic relationships and divergence time estimates were inferred from a four-loci data set. Alternative hypotheses were tested using Shimodaira-Hasegawa and expected likelihood weights tests. •


The M. disjuncta group forms a strongly supported, monophyletic lineage independent from Melanelia s.s. The M. disjuncta clade arose ca. 23.1 million years ago (Ma). Our results suggest that most of the lineages within the clade diversified during the Miocene (17.6 to 11.2 Ma). The split of other brown parmelioids, such as Emodomelanelia-Melanelixia occurred ca. 41.70 Ma, and the radiation of Melanelixia began during the Eocene-Oligocene transition (ca. 33.75 Ma). •


Montanelia is described here as a new genus to accommodate species of the Melanelia disjuncta group. Further, the study indicates that the current species delimitation within the newly described genus requires revision. We provide evidence of lineage divergence of Montanelia at the Oligocene-Miocene boundary. Our results indicate that the diversification during Miocene would have happened during major mountain uplifts.

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