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The Iberian endemic species Ranunculus cabrerensis Rothm.: an intricate history in the Ranunculus parnassiifolius L. polyploid complex

Abstract

The orophilous plant, Ranunculus parnassiifolius L., is a polyploid complex that is widespread throughout the southern European mountains, where at least five taxa have traditionally been recognized. The aim of this study was to test whether R. parnassiifolius subsp. cabrerensis should be treated as an independent species of the R. parnassiifolius polyploid complex and constitutes, therefore, an evolutionary line in itself. To disentangle its evolutionary history and taxonomy, we used genome size estimation based on flow cytometric measurements (FCM), multivariate morphometric analyses, polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphisms (PCR–RFLPs) and subsequent sequencing of cpDNA regions (trnS, trnR-atpA, atpH-atpI). This study provides molecular and morphological evidence for the recognition of R. cabrerensis at the species level, rather than as an intraspecific taxon of R. parnassiifolius. Furthermore, it is concluded that those plants previously known as R. parnassiifolius subsp. muniellensis should be systematized at the subspecies level as R. cabrerensis subsp. muniellensis. This contribution highlights the benefit of combining diverse approaches to obtain knowledge about relict populations and for the implementation of suitable conservation measures.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank Dr. Candela Cuesta, Dr. Pablo Vargas, Dr. Matthias Krop and Dr. Ginés A. López for comments and suggestions. We acknowledge the technical assistance of José Luis Martínez Fernández and Rebeca Alvarez García (Sequencing Services, University of Oviedo). We are grateful to Ana Fernández, J. Ignacio A. Felpete, Álvaro Bueno, Manuel A. Rosado, Sara G. Robinson, B. Jiménez-Alfaro, Leticia Fernández García and Linda González de Paz for helping in the sampling. We wish to recognize the significant contribution made by the photographer José María Fernández Formentí (Fig. 1a). We would like to thank Dr. J. Doležel (Laboratory of Molecular Cytogenetics and Cytometry, Institute of Experimental Botany, Olomouc, Czech Republic) for providing the internal reference standard for FCM analyses. This research was funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (CGL2006-11743). E. Cires is supported by a predoctoral grant by the University of Oviedo (UNOV-06-BECDOC-2).

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Cires, E., Prieto, J.A.F. The Iberian endemic species Ranunculus cabrerensis Rothm.: an intricate history in the Ranunculus parnassiifolius L. polyploid complex. Plant Syst Evol 298, 121–138 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-011-0529-9

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Keywords

  • cpDNA network
  • Genome size
  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Polyploidy
  • Ranunculaceae
  • Taxonomy