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Origin and systematic position of Jacobaea vulgaris (Asteraceae) octoploids: genetic and morphological evidence

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Five cytotypes have been reported for Jacobaea vulgaris (syn.: Senecio jacobaea); three of them with euploid (tetraploid, hexaploid, and octoploid; 2n = 40, 60, and 80) and one with aneuploid (2n = 32) chromosome numbers. Among them, only tetra- and octoploid cytotypes are regularly found, the other two are very rare. In this study we re-evaluated the origin and systematic position of J. vulgaris octoploids. DNA ploidy levels, morphological, and genetic (AFLP, amplified fragment length polymorphism) data were generated for 38 populations of J. vulgaris from Central and Eastern Europe, and adjacent parts of North-Western Europe. Genetic dataset was supplemented with 16 populations of five closely related species: J. alpina, J. aquatica, J. erratica, J. erucifolia, and J. subalpina. The octoploid cytotype of J. vulgaris, known thus far only from Pannonia and Ukrainian Podillya regions, has also been found on two Baltic islands, Öland and Gotland. AFLP analyses showed clear genetic differences between tetra- and octoploid cytotypes and revealed that all octoploid plants are most likely of autopolyploid origin. The AFLP data also indicate that octoploids form two separate allopatric and monophyletic lineages, one represented by Pannonian and Öland populations, and the other represented by the populations from Podillya and Gotland. The octoploids from Gotland correspond to the previously recognized subspecies J. vulgaris subsp. gotlandica. The octoploids distributed in Pannonia are described here as a new subspecies, J. vulgaris subsp. pannonica.

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We are grateful to Viera Feráková, Roman Letz (both Bratislava, Slovakia), Janka Smatanová (Považská Bystrica, Slovakia), and Alexandra Vinikarová (Brno, Czech Republic) for help with plant collection, and to Mikael Hedrén (Lund, Sweden) and anonymous reviewers for valuable comments to the manuscript. For providing information on Jacobaea localities and valuable advice and support, we are especially grateful to our Ukrainian colleague Alexander Kagalo (L´viv) and our colleagues from the Medobory Natural Reservation in Podillya, Vít Grulich (Brno, Czech Republic), Walter Till (Wien, Austria), and Pieter P. Pelser (Christchurch, New Zealand). We also wish to thank our colleagues from the Institute of Botany SAS, Judita Zozomová for her advice with molecular analyses and Viera Polakovičová for technical help. We thank the curators of the BP, LINN, LD, W, and WU herbaria for allowing us to study the herbarium specimens. This research was supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency (grant no. APVV-0320-10).

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Correspondence to Iva Hodálová or Katarína Olšavská.

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Hodálová, I., Mereďa, P., Kučera, J. et al. Origin and systematic position of Jacobaea vulgaris (Asteraceae) octoploids: genetic and morphological evidence. Plant Syst Evol 301, 1517–1541 (2015).

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  • AFLP fingerprinting
  • Flow cytometry
  • Multivariate morphometrics
  • Polyploidy
  • Senecio jacobaea