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Molecular Divergence Between Asian and North American Species of Liriodendron (Magnoliaceae) with Implications for Interpretation of Fossil Floras

Clifford R. Parks and Jonathan F. Wendel
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 77, No. 10 (Oct., 1990), pp. 1243-1256
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2444585
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Molecular Divergence Between Asian and North American Species of Liriodendron (Magnoliaceae) with Implications for Interpretation of Fossil Floras
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Abstract

Botanists have long been aware of the floristic similarities between eastern Asia and eastern North America. Most who have considered this classic disjunction pattern have suggested that it arose through range disruption of a flora that was once more widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere. There is less agreement on the timing of this process, with suggestions ranging from the Paleocene to the Neogene. In this study, molecular markers from two different plant genomes were used to assess the degree of genetic divergence between the two interfertile, morphologically similar species of the genus Liriodendron, i.e., L. tulipifera and L. chinense. Resulting molecular divergence estimates were translated into approximate dates of separation, independent of evidence from the fossil record. Allozyme data (Nei's genetic identify = 0.434) suggested a divergence time of 10-16 million years before present, whereas sequence divergence in the plastid genomes (1.24%) led to an estimate of approximately 11-14 million years before present. A review of the paleobotanical literature indicated that the fossil floras that included, or might have included Liriodendron could not have survived in Beringia after the late Miocene and the onset of southward-migrating Arctic air masses on the North American continent. This interpretation suggests a minimum time of separation of approximately 13 million years before present. Thus, both molecular data sets and the paleobotanical evidence concur in suggesting a divergence time of 10-16 million years before present. Interspecific compatibility and relative morphological stasis must have, therefore, persisted from at least the late Miocene. We emphasize the need for similar studies in other genera, especially those that have both a reasonable Tertiary fossil history and extant species in mesic temperate refugia in Asia, Europe, and western as well as eastern North America.

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