Indexed on: 24 Mar '15Published on: 24 Mar '15Published in: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Recent phylogenetic studies in Sapotaceae have demonstrated that many genera need to be redefined to better correspond to natural groups. The Neotropical genus Pradosia is believed to be monophyletic and includes 26 recognized species. Here we reconstruct the generic phylogeny by a species-tree approach using (∗)BEAST, 21 recognized species (36 accessions), sequence data from three nuclear markers (ITS, ETS, and RPB2), a relaxed lognormal clock model, and a fossil calibration. We explore the evolution of five selected morphological characters, reconstruct the evolution of habitat (white-sand vs. clayish soils) preference, as well as space and time by using a recently developed continuous diffusion model in biogeography. We find Pradosia to be monophyletic in its current circumscription and to have originated in the Amazon basin at ∼47.5Ma. Selected morphological characters are useful to readily distinguish three clades. Preferences to white-sand and/or clay are somewhat important for the majority of species, but speciation has not been powered by habitat shifts. Pradosia brevipes is a relative young species (∼1.3Ma) that has evolved a unique geoxylic life strategy within Pradosia and is restricted to savannahs. Molecular dating and phylogenetic pattern indicate that Pradosia reached the Brazilian Atlantic coast at least three times: at 34.4Ma (P. longipedicellata), at 11.7Ma (P. kuhlmannii), and at 3.9Ma (weakly supported node within the red-flowered clade).