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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 1998 Oct;10(2):178-90.

The eastern Asian and eastern and western North American floristic disjunction: congruent phylogenetic patterns in seven diverse genera.

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  • 1Department of Botany, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, 99164-4238, USA.Xianjenn@isu.edu.tree

Abstract

One of the most remarkable examples of intercontinental disjunction of the North Temperate Flora involves eastern Asia and eastern and western North America. Although there has been considerable interest in this phytogeographic pattern for over 150 years (e.g., Gray, 1859; Li, 1952; Graham, 1972; Boufford and Spongberg, 1983; Wu, 1983; Tiffney, 1985a, 1985b), relationships among taxa displaying the disjunction remain obscure. Understanding phylogenetic relationships is, however, a prerequisite for historical biogeographic analyses of this distributional pattern. To understand better the relationships of taxa displaying this intercontinental disjunction, phylogenetic analyses were conducted using a variety of DNA data sets for species of four genera (Cornus, Boykinia, Tiarella, and Trautvetteria) that occur in eastern Asia, eastern North America, and western North America. An area cladogram was constructed for each of the four genera, all of which show a similar pattern of relationship: the eastern Asian species are sister to all North American species. An identical phylogenetic pattern is also found in three other taxa exhibiting this disjunction (Aralia sect. Aralia, Calycanthus, and Adiantum pedatum). The congruent phylogenetic pattern found in these seven diverse genera raises the possibility of a common origin of the eastern Asia, eastern and western North America disjunction. The data are in agreement with the long-standing hypothesis that this well-known floristic disjunction represents the fragmentation of a once continuous Mixed Mesophytic forest community and suggest that the disjunction may have involved only two major vicariance events: an initial split between Eurasia and North America, followed by the isolation of floras between eastern and western North America. However, congruence between phylogenies and geographic distributions does not necessarily indicate an identical phytogeographic history. Taxa exhibiting the same phylogenetic pattern may have originated at different geological times. Analysis of divergence times using the molecular clock indicates that species of Cornus, Boykinia, and Calycanthus may have diverged at different geological times, suggesting that the floristic disjunction involving eastern Asia and North America may not be simple; it may have involved multiple historical events at very different geological times in different genera.

Copyright 1998 Academic Press.

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