Molecular studies did not support the distinctiveness of Malva alcea and M. excisa (Malvaceae) in Central and Eastern Europe

Abstract

Relics of Malva alcea are found in Central and Western Europe. A similar taxon, M. excisa, is native to the eastern parts of Europe. According to selected sources, the geographical range boundary of the above taxa intersects Poland. Taxonomic research relying on key morphological features (the depth of corolla petal incisions and the type of hairs covering the stem) did not clearly validate the distinctness of those species.

Genetic variation between Malva alcea and M. excisa was analyzed using ISSR and ISJ markers. The performed analysis did not reveal statistically significant differences at the level of genetic diversity between M. alcea and M. excisa populations. The obtained genetic identity values (I = 0.985) do not support the identification of eastern populations as a distinct biological species of M. excisa. The applied DNA markers did not reveal species-specific bands supporting molecular identification of those taxa. The obtained genetic identity values were verified by neighbor-joining grouping which showed that M. alcea and M. excisa did not form corresponding clusters, thus pointing to an absence of significant differences between the analyzed taxa. Differences between the above species were not revealed by an analysis of the sequences of chloroplast regions trnHpsbA and rpoC1, either.

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Celka, Z., Szczecińska, M., Sawicki, J. et al. Molecular studies did not support the distinctiveness of Malva alcea and M. excisa (Malvaceae) in Central and Eastern Europe. Biologia 67, 1088–1098 (2012). https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-012-0107-9

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Key words

  • Malva alcea
  • Malva excise
  • genetic diversity
  • molecular markers