Background: The populations of Soldanella (Primulaceae) of the southern Apennines (Italy) are unique within the genus for their distribution and ecology. Their highly fragmented distribution range, with three main metapopulations on some of the highest mountains (Gelbison, Sila and Aspromonte massifs) of the area, poses intriguing questions about their evolutionary history and biogeography, and about the possibility of local endemisms. Aims and methods: In order to clarify the phylogeny and biogeography of the three metapopulations of Soldanella in the southern Apennines, attributed to S. calabrella to date, and to identify possible local endemisms, a comparative approach based on the study of molecular, morphological and ecological characteristics of the populations was employed. Specifically, one nuclear (total ITS) and two plastid (rbcL and trnL) markers were used for the phylogenetic analyses, performed through both maximum likelihood and Bayesian techniques. Among the morphological features, the glandular hair and leaf biometric traits were analysed, and the environment in which the populations grew was characterised for altitude, forest canopy composition and soil pH, C, N and organic matter. Results and conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that the lineage of Soldanella of southern Italy diverged from the Carpathians lineage during the Middle Pleistocene, and underwent an evolutionary radiation during the Late Pleistocene. The populations of the Sila and Aspromonte massifs diverged from the populations of the Gelbison massif around 380000 years ago and are probably undergoing a progressive differentiation due to their isolation. The populations on the Gelbison massif, moreover, have different morphological features from those of the Sila and Aspromonte massifs and a different ecological niche. The molecular, morphological and ecological data clearly demonstrate that the metapopulation of Soldanella on the Gelbison massif belongs to a new taxonomic unit at the species level, which we name Soldanella sacra A. & L. Bellino from the name of the massif on which it was discovered, the “Holy Mountain”.

Evolution, ecology and systematics of Soldanella (Primulaceae) in the southern Apennines (Italy)

BELLINO, ALESSANDRO;BALDANTONI, Daniela;
2015

Abstract

Background: The populations of Soldanella (Primulaceae) of the southern Apennines (Italy) are unique within the genus for their distribution and ecology. Their highly fragmented distribution range, with three main metapopulations on some of the highest mountains (Gelbison, Sila and Aspromonte massifs) of the area, poses intriguing questions about their evolutionary history and biogeography, and about the possibility of local endemisms. Aims and methods: In order to clarify the phylogeny and biogeography of the three metapopulations of Soldanella in the southern Apennines, attributed to S. calabrella to date, and to identify possible local endemisms, a comparative approach based on the study of molecular, morphological and ecological characteristics of the populations was employed. Specifically, one nuclear (total ITS) and two plastid (rbcL and trnL) markers were used for the phylogenetic analyses, performed through both maximum likelihood and Bayesian techniques. Among the morphological features, the glandular hair and leaf biometric traits were analysed, and the environment in which the populations grew was characterised for altitude, forest canopy composition and soil pH, C, N and organic matter. Results and conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that the lineage of Soldanella of southern Italy diverged from the Carpathians lineage during the Middle Pleistocene, and underwent an evolutionary radiation during the Late Pleistocene. The populations of the Sila and Aspromonte massifs diverged from the populations of the Gelbison massif around 380000 years ago and are probably undergoing a progressive differentiation due to their isolation. The populations on the Gelbison massif, moreover, have different morphological features from those of the Sila and Aspromonte massifs and a different ecological niche. The molecular, morphological and ecological data clearly demonstrate that the metapopulation of Soldanella on the Gelbison massif belongs to a new taxonomic unit at the species level, which we name Soldanella sacra A. & L. Bellino from the name of the massif on which it was discovered, the “Holy Mountain”.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11386/4649155
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