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Identity and distribution of weedy Pedicularis kansuensis Maxim. (Orobanchaceae) in Tianshan Mountains of Xinjiang: morphological, anatomical and molecular evidence

Abstract

Weedy plants affect the biodiversity and ecosystem function as well as the crop and fodder plant production. However, adequate management requires detailed knowledge of the taxonomic identity of these plants. Here, we focused on a hemiparasitic Pedicularis species (Orobanchaceae), which occurs at high densities and results in significant biomass reductions in forage grasses in Bayanbulak Grassland of Xinjiang. The identity of this target species is not clear, with conflicting reports in publications and in herbarium collections. Hence, clear and management-relevant information on demography and reproductive ecology is difficult to be obtained from the literature. Therefore, we analyzed field and archival materials collected from Xinjiang in order to clarify the identity and distribution of the target species. Morphological analyses suggested that the populations at Bayanbulak Grassland should be Pedicularis kansuensis Maxim. rather than P. verticillata L. which has been accepted in the available literature. Phylogenetic analysis with a combination of three barcodes (matK, rbcL and trnH-psbA) uniting a clade of P. kansuensis and individuals from Bayanbulak Grassland populations with 100% bootstrap support, confirmed the target species to be P. kansuensis. Anatomical investigations and field observations showed that the target species is an annual or biennial herb, which also fits with the life cycle as P. kansuensis. Based on archive material and field observations, we verified that the distribution of P. kansuensis is mainly concentrated in the Tianshan Mountains of Xinjiang.

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Correspondence to Airong Li.

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Sui, X., Kuss, P., Li, W. et al. Identity and distribution of weedy Pedicularis kansuensis Maxim. (Orobanchaceae) in Tianshan Mountains of Xinjiang: morphological, anatomical and molecular evidence. J. Arid Land 8, 453–461 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-016-0004-0

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Keywords

  • DNA barcode
  • herb-chronology
  • morphological characters
  • root hemiparasite