Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 107–116 | Cite as

Molecular phylogeny of the cosmopolitan aquatic plant genus Limosella (Scrophulariaceae) with a particular focus on the origin of the Australasian L. curdieana

  • Yu Ito
  • Norio Tanaka
  • Dirk C. Albach
  • Anders S. Barfod
  • Bengt Oxelman
  • A. Muthama Muasya
Regular Paper


Limosella is a small aquatic genus of Scrophulariaceae of twelve species, of which one is distributed in northern circumpolar regions, two in southern circumpolar regions, two in the Americas, one endemic to Australia, and six in tropical or southern Africa or both. The Australasian L. curdieana has always been considered distinct but its close phylogenetic relationships have never been inferred. Here, we investigated the following alternative phylogenetic hypotheses based on comparative leaf morphology and habitat preferences or floral morphology: (1) L. curdieana is sister to the African L. grandiflora; or (2) it is closely related to a group of other African species and the northern circumpolar L. aquatica. We tested these hypotheses in a phylogenetic framework using DNA sequence data from four plastid DNA regions and the nuclear ITS region. These were analyzed using maximum parsimony and Bayesian inference. We obtained moderately resolved, partially conflicting phylogenies, supporting that accessions of L. grandiflora form the sister group to the rest of the genus and that L. curdieana groups with the African taxa, L. africana and L. major, and L. aquatica. Thus, the molecular evidence supports the second hypothesis. A biogeographic analysis suggests an out-of-southern Africa scenario and several dispersal events in the Southern Hemisphere. Past dispersal from southern Africa to Australasia is suggested, yet it cannot be excluded that a route via tropical Africa and temperate Asia has existed.


Aquatic plants Biogeography Dispersal Lamiales Phylogenetic inference 



The authors thank R. Kaul (NEB) for providing Limosella materials, T. Trinder-Smith (BOL), J. Palmer (CANB), C. Gallagher, P. Milne (MEL), C. Cupido (NBG), and E. van Wyk (PRE) for arranging loans from their institutions and/or for hospitality during our research visits; M. Hjertson (UPS) for sending scanned images of voucher specimens of Limosella at UPS; C. Ishii (Tsukuba) for help with DNA sequencing; J. Guerin (South Australian Seed Conservation Center, Australia) for providing L. curdieana photos. We would also like to thank P. B. Pelser (CANU), J. Murata, H. Ikeda, and T. Ohi-Toma (TI), and J. Li (Kunming) for their continuous encouragements and supports. YI and AMM received plant collecting permit in Western Cape, South Africa from Cape-Nature. This research was supported by FY 2012 Researcher Exchange Program between Japan society for the promotion of science (JSPS) and Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) to YI, JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 25440224 to NT, and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) to AMM.

Supplementary material

10265_2016_872_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)
10265_2016_872_MOESM2_ESM.docx (251 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 251 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yu Ito
    • 1
    • 2
  • Norio Tanaka
    • 3
  • Dirk C. Albach
    • 4
  • Anders S. Barfod
    • 5
  • Bengt Oxelman
    • 6
  • A. Muthama Muasya
    • 7
  1. 1.Biological SciencesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenThe Chinese Academy of SciencesKunmingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Tsukuba Botanical GardenNational Museum of Nature and ScienceTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Institute of Biology and Environmental Sciences (IBU)Carl von Ossietzky-University OldenburgOldenburgGermany
  5. 5.Department of BioscienceAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark
  6. 6.Department of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  7. 7.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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