Unexpected high divergence in nrDNA ITS and extensive parallelism in floral morphology of Pedicularis (Orobanchaceae)
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Internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region sequences of nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA) were used in the phylogenetic reconstruction of Pedicularis, a genus with strong adaptive radiation. Forty-two species representing 12 greges of the genus were all, except P. resupinata, sampled from the Hengduan Mountain region, China. A high level of ITS sequence variation was found among the species distributed in such a small geographical area, which had been rarely reported in other groups. The great ITS divergence in Pedicularis could be explained by a relatively ancient origin and diversification of the genus followed by migration of different floristic components into the Hengduan Mountains, or accelerated rates of molecular evolution in parasitic lineages of Orobanchaceae. In the present ITS phylogeny, almost all the main clades are not consistent with the high hierarchical taxa within Pedicularis, which implies that significant parallel evolution occurred in floral morphology of the genus, and that undue attention has been paid to corolla characters in the intragenus classifications.
KeywordsnrDNA ITS molecular evolution floral morphology adaptive radiation Hengduan Mountains Pedicularis.
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