Phylogenetic and biogeographic diversification of Rhus (Anacardiaceae) in the Northern Hemisphere.

Research paper by Tingshuang T Yi, Allison J AJ Miller, Jun J Wen

Indexed on: 04 Nov '04Published on: 04 Nov '04Published in: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution


Sequences of internal transcribed spacers (ITS) of nuclear ribosomal DNA, the chloroplast ndhF gene, and chloroplast trnL-F regions (trnL intron, and trnL [UAA] 3' exon-trnF [GAA] intergenic spacer) were used for phylogenetic analyses of Rhus, a genus disjunctly distributed in Asia, Europe, Hawaii, North America, and Northern Central America. Both ITS and cpDNA data sets support the monophyly of Rhus. The monophyly of subgenus Rhus was suggested by the combined cpDNA and ITS data, and largely supported in the cpDNA data except that Rhus microphylla of subgenus Lobadium was nested within it. The monophyly of subgenus Lobadium was strongly supported in the ITS data, whereas the cpDNA data revealed two main clades within the subgenus, which formed a trichotomy with the clade of subgenus Rhus plus R. microphylla. The ITS and cpDNA trees differ in the positions of Rhus michauxii, R. microphylla, and Rhus rubifolia, and hybridization may have caused this discordance. Fossil evidence indicates that Rhus dates back to the early Eocene. The penalized likelihood method was used to estimate divergence times, with fossils of Rhus subgenus Lobadium, Pistacia and Toxicodendron used for age constraints. Rhus diverged from its closest relative at 49.1+/-2.1 million years ago (Ma), the split of subgenus Lobadium and subgenus Rhus was at 38.1+/-3.0 Ma. Rhus most likely migrated from North America into Asia via the Bering Land Bridge during the Late Eocene (33.8+/-3.1 Ma). Rhus coriaria from southern Europe and western Asia diverged from its relatives in eastern Asia at 24.4+/-3.2 Ma. The Hawaiian Rhus sandwicensis diverged from the Asian Rhus chinensis at 13.5+/-3.0 Ma. Subgenus Lobadium was inferred to be of North American origin. Taxa of subgenus Lobadium then migrated southward to Central America. Furthermore, we herein make the following three nomenclatural combinations: (1) Searsia leptodictya (Diels) T. S. Yi, A. J. Miller and J. Wen, comb. nov., (2) Searsia pyroides (A. Rich.) T. S. Yi, A. J. Miller and J. Wen, comb. nov., and (3) Searsia undulata (Jacq.) T. S. Yi, A. J. Miller and J. Wen, because our analyses support the segregation of Searsia from Rhus.