National Research Council of Italy

Institute of Biosciences and BioResources

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IBBR publication #2709

A comprehensive, genus-level time-calibrated phylogeny of the tree flora of Mediterranean Europe and an assessment of its vulnerability

Cheikh Albassatneh M, Escudero M, Ponger L, Monnet A -C, Arroyo J, Nikolic T, Bacchetta G, Bagnoli F, Dimopoulos P, Leriche A, Medail F, Roig A, Spanu I, Vendramin GG, Hampe A, Fady B

Botany Letters (in press) [ISSN: 2381-8107] (2019)
doi: 10.1080/23818107.2019.1684360

We produced the first time-calibrated phylogeny of all 64 native tree genera occurring on the European side of the Mediterranean Basin. This phylogeny is based on 3 plastid DNA sequences (rbcL matK and trnH-psbA), 4 recognized fossil dates and 10 secondary calibrations. Based on the inferred topology, we then tested whether the investigated tree flora exhibits phylogenetic clustering in both life-history traits known to influence reproduction and species’ vulnerability to extinction. Our topology and the estimated dates mostly conform to published partial phylogenies and are highly congruent with the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification except for some minor incongruences including the still debated phylogenetic position of Magnoliids. The four strictly endemic genera of the Mediterranean Basin (Chamaerops, Phillyrea, Spartium and Tetraclinis) all showed emergence dates (11-72 Ma) long before the onset of the Mediterranean climate. We did not find any imprints of phylogenetic sorting processes on the life-history traits we studied, except for the mode of seed dispersal, which showed a clustered distribution across our topology. The presence of species at risk of potential extinction within a given genus was randomly distributed along the phylogenetic tree. Species with deficient data were significantly nested within a few of the most recently evolved angiosperm genera. Our analysis closes knowledge gaps and provides a valuable basis for studying the biogeographical and ecological processes that have generated the Mediterranean tree flora. It can also inform conservation planning strategies that aim at broadening traditional taxonomy-focused perspectives with components of evolutionary history and phylogenetic singularity

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