Reticulate Evolution in Diphasiastrum (Lycopodiaceae)

Abstract: In this thesis relationships and the occurrence of reticulate evolutionary events in the club moss genus Diphasiastrum are investigated. Diphasiastrum is initially established as a monophyletic group within Lycopodiaceae using non recombinant chloroplast sequence data. Support is obtained for eight distinct parental lineages in Diphasiastrum, and relationships among the putative parent taxa in the hypothesized hybrid complexes; D. alpinum, D. complanatum, D. digitatum, D. multispicatum, D. sitchense, D. tristachyum and D. veitchii are presented. Feulgen DNA image densitometry data and sequence data obtained from three nuclear regions, RPB2, LEAFY and LAMB4, were used to infer the origins of three different taxa confirmed to be allopolyploid; D. zanclophyllum from South Africa, D. wightianum from Malaysia and an undescribed taxon from China. The two Asian polyploids have originated from two different hybrid combinations, D. multispicatum x D. veitchii and D. tristachyum x D. veitchii. Diphasiastrum zanclophyllum originates from a cross between D. digitatum and an unidentified diploid taxon. The occurrence of three homoploid hybrid combinations commonly recognized in Europe, D. alpinum x D. complanatum, D. alpinum x D. tristachyum and D. complanatum x D. tristachyum, are verified using the same three nuclear regions. Two of the three hybrid combinations are also shown to have originated from reciprocal crosses. Admixture analyses performed on an extended, dataset similarly identified predominately F1 hybrids and backcrosses. The observations and common recognition of hybrid species in the included populations are hence most likely due to frequent observations of neohybrids in hybrid zones. Reticulate patterns are, however, prominent in the presented dataset. Hence future studies addressing evolutionary and ecological questions in Diphasiastrum should emphasize the impact of gene flow between parent lineages rather than speciation as the result of hybridization.