Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 301, Issue 10, pp 2351–2375 | Cite as

Phylogeny and biogeography of Suaeda subg. Brezia (Chenopodiaceae/Amaranthaceae) in the Americas

  • Ronny Brandt
  • Maria Lomonosova
  • Kurt WeisingEmail author
  • Natascha Wagner
  • Helmut Freitag
Original Article


Suaeda subg. Brezia (Chenopodiaceae/Amaranthaceae) comprises ~45 halophytic species distributed worldwide along coastlines and in saline inland habitats. Thirteen species are currently accepted from the Americas, but species delimitation is difficult due to the scarcity of distinguishing characters. Little is known yet about phylogenetic relationships and biogeography of American Brezia species. Here, we present molecular phylogenies based on DNA sequence data from the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and the chloroplast rpl32-trnL intergenic region. Our sampling comprised 157 accessions covering all 13 American Brezia species along with 38 accessions from 16 Eurasian taxa. Phylogenetic trees were generated using parsimony and Bayesian methods. Three monophyletic lineages were discerned in the ITS tree: the Suaeda maritima, S. prostrata and S. corniculata group. Most American species proved to belong to the S. corniculata group. Species boundaries were mostly not recovered or even contradicted by the ITS data, which could be a consequence of low sequence variation in terminal clades and/or reticulate evolution. The rpl32-trnL phylogeny was poorly resolved, with the majority of American species being part of a polytomy with few supported internal nodes. Several incongruities were found between the nuclear and chloroplast tree, revealing at least four instances of hybridization and chloroplast capture between distant lineages. Chromosome counts showed that all American species are polyploid with hexaploidy prevailing. We discuss our results in terms of species relationships, hybridization, polyploidy and biogeography with emphasis on the colonization from NE Asia and Europe, and the subsequent spread and diversification in the Americas.


Suaeda subg. Brezia Molecular phylogeny Hybrids Reticulate evolution Biogeography America 



With gratitude, we acknowledge the generous support of a large number of curators for providing herbarium specimens on loan or permitting removal of samples for molecular study in their institutions. This applies in particular to ALA, BKL, CAS, DAO, GR, IEB, LPB, NY, RENO, RSA, SD, TEX, UCSB, and UTC. Other colleagues were helpful by collecting and sending samples taken from herbarium material, as P. W. Ball (Toronto) and C. B. Villamil (Buenos Aires) or fresh material including seeds, as E. Dominguez (Punta Arenas), W. R. Ferren (Santa Barbara), S. Pfanzelt (Mainz), F. G. Schröder (Göttingen), N. Schütz (Stuttgart) and S. Zamudio (Pátzcuaro), E. Nikolin (Yakutsk); and M. Kucev (Barnaul) for providing each two ITS sequences of S. “jacutica” and S. arctica. We are also thankful to W. R. Ferren for joining and guiding our field trips in New Jersey and to J. Schenk (Fullerton), F. Roberts (San Louis Rey) and M. R. Sharifi (Long Beach) in California, as well as for pertinent discussions with the late S. E. Clemants (Brooklyn) and many others. Very kindly W. R. Ferren, E. Dominguez and H. Flores-Olvera also contributed by allocation of images, the latter also by unpublished chromosome counts. We thank the gardeners in Kassel University for their engagement in professionally cultivating American Suaeda plants. We also thank an anonymous reviewer and the editor for useful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. The project was financially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) (Grant WE 1830/7-1 to K. Weising and H. Freitag) and by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Grant 12-04-00746 to M. Lomonosova).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLS 94.5 kb)
606_2015_1233_MOESM2_ESM.txt (173 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (TXT 173 kb)
606_2015_1233_MOESM3_ESM.txt (107 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (TXT 106 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronny Brandt
    • 1
  • Maria Lomonosova
    • 2
  • Kurt Weising
    • 1
    Email author
  • Natascha Wagner
    • 1
  • Helmut Freitag
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Molecular Systematics, Department of Sciences, Institute of BiologyUniversity of KasselKasselGermany
  2. 2.Central Siberian Botanical GardenRussian Academy of ScienceNovosibirskRussia

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