Cochlearia macrorrhiza (Brassicaceae): A bridging species between Cochlearia taxa from the Eastern Alps and the Carpathians?
Cochlearia macrorrhiza is one of the most highly endangered species in Central Europe and less than five individuals survived at its natural stand in a lowland area between the Eastern Alps and the Carpathians. Amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) confirmed the status of C. macrorrhiza as a distinct taxon. Lowland C. macrorrhiza does not bridge the distribution of montainous and alpine Cochlearia species from the Eastern Alps and the Carpathians genetically, and C. macrorrhiza represents a separate lineage which evolved from diploid Cochlearia as C. excelsa in East Austrian high alpine regions did. Another species considered in this study, the Romanian C. borzaeana is more closely related to C. tatrae from the High Tatra mountains than to C. pyrenaica from Slovakia or Austria and the AFLP results suggest a single origin of alpine 2n=42 taxa. Genetic differentiation within and between populations is highly structured geographically, and the AFLP data favour a former widespread distribution of C. pyrenaica in mountainous regions and a parallel evolution of high alpine taxa in the Eastern Alps and the Carpathians, respectively.
KeywordsAFLPs alpine plants Brassicaceae Cochlearia phylogeography ice age refugia Pleistocene vicariance
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