Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 441–460 | Cite as

Geographical Distribution of Diploid and Tetraploid Cytotypes of Thymus sect. Mastichina (Lamiaceae) in the Iberian Peninsula, Genome Size and Evolutionary Implications

  • Verónica Girón
  • Teresa Garnatje
  • Joan Vallès
  • Ernesto Pérez-Collazos
  • Pilar Catalán
  • Benito Valdés


The occurrence of diploid and tetraploid cytotypes in Thymus section Mastichina (Lamiaceae) was investigated by chromosome counting and flow cytometric measurements of DNA content. To cover the entire native distribution of the section across the Iberian Peninsula, plant material was sampled from 29 populations, representing all three taxa (Thymus albicans, T. mastichina subsp. mastichina and T. mastichina subsp. donyanae). We provide first estimates of genome size for taxa of this section. Analyses revealed the existence of new cytotypes in T. mastichina subsp. mastichina (2n = 2x = 28, 30) and confirmed the existence of previous ones (2n = 4x = 56, 58, 60). We also confirmed the presence of exclusively diploid cytotypes (2n = 2x = 30) in the southwestern Iberian endemics T. albicans and T. mastichina subsp. donyanae. We conclude that the southwestern Iberian Peninsula acted as a Pleistocene glacial refugium that may have permitted speciation processes within this section. Several hypotheses concerning these processes and the origin and distribution of the studied taxa are discussed.


Chromosome numbers Endemism Flow cytometry Genome evolution Karyology Ploidy level 



This work was supported by projects P06-RNM-01675 (8474) of the Andalusian Government (Consejería de Economía, Innovación y Ciencia), CGL2007-64839-C02-01 and 02/BOS and CGL2010-22234-C02-01 and 02/BOS of the Spanish government, and grant projects 2009SGR00439 “Grup de Recerca Consolidat” from the Generalitat de Catalunya and A52 “Grupo de investigación consolidado” Bioflora from the Aragon Government and the European Social Fund. V. G. was granted a research contract from the Junta de Andalucía. The authors thank the authorities of the Doñana National and Natural Parks, and the Doñana Biological Reserve for the facilities provided during this study. The authors wish to express their sincere thanks to Z. Díaz for her advice on chromosome treatments, to D. Melero and H. Rodríguez for their contribution in chromosome counts, to M. Serra for photomicroscopy assistance, and to A. Plant and S. Pyke for English language revision. Prof. Jan Suda, the associate editor of Folia Geobotanica, and two anonymous referees are acknowledged for their comments that improved the manuscript. The authors declare that the experiments carried out in this work comply with the current laws of Spain.


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Copyright information

© Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Verónica Girón
    • 1
  • Teresa Garnatje
    • 2
  • Joan Vallès
    • 3
  • Ernesto Pérez-Collazos
    • 4
  • Pilar Catalán
    • 4
  • Benito Valdés
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología Vegetal y EcologíaUniversidad de SevillaSevillaSpain
  2. 2.Institut Botànic de Barcelona (IBB-CSIC-ICUB)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Laboratori de Botànica, Facultat de FarmàciaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Departamento de Agricultura y Economía Agraria. Escuela Politécnica Superior de HuescaUniversidad de ZaragozaHuescaSpain

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