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Morphological, genetic and ecological divergence in near-cryptic bryophyte species widespread in the Holarctic: the Dicranum acutifolium complex (Dicranales) revisited in the Alps


Kiebacher, Thomas; Szövényi, Péter (2024). Morphological, genetic and ecological divergence in near-cryptic bryophyte species widespread in the Holarctic: the Dicranum acutifolium complex (Dicranales) revisited in the Alps. Journal of Plant Research:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

There is mounting evidence that reproductively isolated, but morphologically weakly differentiated species (so-called cryptic species) represent a substantial part of biological diversity, especially in bryophytes. We assessed the evolutionary history and ecological differentiation of a species pair, Dicranum brevifolium and D. septentrionale, which have overlapping ranges in the Holarctic. Despite their morphological similarity, we found similar genetic differentiation as between morphologically well-differentiated Dicranum species. Moreover, we detected gene tree discordance between plastid and nuclear markers, but neither of the two datasets resolved the two as sister species. The signal in trnL–trnF better reflects the morphological and ecological affinities and indicates a close relationship while ITS sequence data resolved the two taxa as phylogenetically distantly related. The discordance is probably unrelated to the ecological differentiation of D. septentrionale to colonise subneutral to alkaline substrates (vs. acidic in D. brevifolium), because this ability is rare in the genus and shared with D. acutifolium. This taxon is the closest relative of D. septentrionale according to the trnL–trnF data and does not share the discordance in ITS. We furthermore demonstrate that beside D. acutifolium, both D. septentrionale and D. brevifolium occur in the Alps but D. brevifolium is most likely rarer. Based on morphological analyses including factor analysis for mixed data of 45 traits we suggest treating the latter two as near-cryptic species and we recommend verifying morphological determinations molecularly.

Abstract

There is mounting evidence that reproductively isolated, but morphologically weakly differentiated species (so-called cryptic species) represent a substantial part of biological diversity, especially in bryophytes. We assessed the evolutionary history and ecological differentiation of a species pair, Dicranum brevifolium and D. septentrionale, which have overlapping ranges in the Holarctic. Despite their morphological similarity, we found similar genetic differentiation as between morphologically well-differentiated Dicranum species. Moreover, we detected gene tree discordance between plastid and nuclear markers, but neither of the two datasets resolved the two as sister species. The signal in trnL–trnF better reflects the morphological and ecological affinities and indicates a close relationship while ITS sequence data resolved the two taxa as phylogenetically distantly related. The discordance is probably unrelated to the ecological differentiation of D. septentrionale to colonise subneutral to alkaline substrates (vs. acidic in D. brevifolium), because this ability is rare in the genus and shared with D. acutifolium. This taxon is the closest relative of D. septentrionale according to the trnL–trnF data and does not share the discordance in ITS. We furthermore demonstrate that beside D. acutifolium, both D. septentrionale and D. brevifolium occur in the Alps but D. brevifolium is most likely rarer. Based on morphological analyses including factor analysis for mixed data of 45 traits we suggest treating the latter two as near-cryptic species and we recommend verifying morphological determinations molecularly.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Plant Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Plant Science
Language:English
Date:23 March 2024
Deposited On:25 Apr 2024 10:27
Last Modified:26 Apr 2024 20:00
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0918-9440
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10265-024-01534-3
PubMed ID:38520483
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID160004
  • : Project TitleTesting hypotheses on the evolutionary origin of the land plant sporophyte
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID184826
  • : Project TitleUnravelling the genetic basis of the Hornwort-Cyanobacteria Symbiosis
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID212509
  • : Project TitleMolecular basis of convergent evolution: parallel reduction of the sporophyte phase in Funariid mosses
  • : FunderUniversity Research Priority Program “Evolution in Action” of the University of Zurich
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderGeorges and Antoine Claraz Foundation
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderUniversity of Zurich
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)