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Genetic differentiation among Psittacanthus rhynchanthus (Loranthaceae) populations: novel phylogeographic patterns in the Mesoamerican tropical lowlands


Historical geological events and climatic changes have played important roles in shaping population differentiation and distribution within species. In this study, we analysed the distribution, expansion and colonization patterns, and genetic differentiation among Psittacanthus rhynchanthus populations in Mesoamerica. Specifically, we determine the effects of major historical events and geographic barriers on population divergence using nuclear and chloroplast DNA sequence data and the impact of Pleistocene glacial cycles on the distribution dynamics of P. rhynchanthus using ecological niche modelling (ENM). Our results showed that P. rhynchanthus populations split into two lineages, one distributed on the Yucatán Peninsula and the second along the Pacific and Atlantic slopes and Honduras, approximately 1 million years ago. The two lineages were fragmented at the last interglacial according to ENM predictions and experienced postglacial range expansion during the Last Glacial Maximum. Analysis of climate differentiation and niche models showed that both lineages have different climatic preferences, where the climatic characteristics of the Yucatán populations are not fully represented in the rest of the distribution range of P. rhynchanthus. Additionally, our study suggests that Pleistocene expansion of suitable habitat, environmental segregation (ecological barrier between regions) and, perhaps host shifts, have acted as the isolation mechanisms between the two lineages. Our results provide new insight as to understanding the distribution and phylogeographic patterns and the possible mechanisms underlying intraspecific evolutionary relationships of plants in the Mesoamerican tropical lowlands.

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We thank Cristina Bárcenas, Pablo Carrillo, Luis Cervantes✝, Etelvina Gándara, Felicitas Lagunes, José Luis Martínez, María Teresa Mejía-Saules, Eduardo Ruiz-Sanchez and Victoria Sosa who helped in obtaining samples and/or generated sequences for this work; and Ricarda Riina and two anonymous reviewers for useful comments on previous versions of the manuscript. Permission to conduct our fieldwork was granted by the Mexican government (Instituto Nacional de Ecología, Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, SGPA/DGGFS/712/1299/12), and collecting permits from Guatemala (Universidad del Valle, UVAL) and Honduras (Centro Universitario Regional del Litoral Atlántico, CURLA) herbaria. This work was supported by competitive grants (grant numbers 61710, 155686, A1-S-26134) from the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT; http://www.conacyt.mx) and research funds (20030/10563) from the Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, AC (INECOL) awarded to Juan Francisco Ornelas. Doctoral scholarships from CONACyT were granted to A.E.O.R. (262563), Y.L.V. (262561) and E.A.L.H. (584159), and a research assistant scholarship from CONACyT was granted to M.H.S.

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Correspondence to Juan F. Ornelas.

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Online Resource 1. Potential effects of Pleistocene glacial/interglacial cycles on the distribution of suitable habitat for populations of the mistletoe, Psittacanthus rhynchanthus for the last interglacial (LIG, 140–120 ka BP), Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, 21 ka BP) and the present (0 ka).

Online Resource 2. Geographic information and sample sizes of the 22 Psittacanthus rhynchanthus localities sampled in this study.

Online Resource 3. Time divergence estimates and phylogenetic analysis for P. rhynchanthus individuals based on nrDNA and combined cpDNA (trnL-F/atpB-rbcL) sequence data using a Bayesian approach.

Online Resource 4. Numbers of genetically analysed samples (n) for each molecular marker (ITS and trnL-F/atpB-rbcL), and numbers of distinct ribotypes (R) and haplotypes (H) found in Psittacanthus rhynchanthus individuals sampled.

Online Resource 5. Rarefaction analyses for (a) individual- and (b) population-based haplotype richness (95% confidence intervals, CI) accumulation of cpDNA haplotypes based on random sampling of the Psittacanthus rhynchanthus data set.

Online Resource 6. Bayesian skyline plots showing historical demographic trends of Psittacanthus rhynchanthus showing changes in effective population size (Ne; mean ± 95% central posterior density) over time.

Online Resource 7. Factor loadings from the principal components analysis of Psittacanthus rhynchanthus in Mesoamerica on temperature and precipitation variables from WorldClim.

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Ortiz-Rodriguez, A.E., Licona-Vera, Y., Vásquez-Aguilar, A.A. et al. Genetic differentiation among Psittacanthus rhynchanthus (Loranthaceae) populations: novel phylogeographic patterns in the Mesoamerican tropical lowlands. Plant Syst Evol 306, 10 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-020-01638-y

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  • cpDNA
  • Loranthaceae
  • Mesoamerica
  • Mistletoe
  • nrDNA
  • Psittacanthus rhynchanthus
  • Refugia