Macaronesia Acts as a Museum of Genetic Diversity of Relict Ferns: The Case of Diplazium caudatum (Athyriaceae)
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AuthorBen-Menni Schuler, Samira; Picazo Aragonés, Jesús; Romero García, Ana Teresa; Suárez Santiago, Víctor
Fern phylogeographyGenetic diversityMacaronesiaMating systemsMicrosatellitesPlastid DNARefugiaSpecies distribution modellingTertiary relicts
Schuler, S.B.-M.; Picazo-Aragonés, J.; Rumsey, F.J.; Romero-García, A.T.; Suárez-Santiago, V.N. Macaronesia Acts as a Museum of Genetic Diversity of Relict Ferns: The Case of Diplazium caudatum (Athyriaceae). Plants 2021, 10, 2425. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants 10112425
Macaronesia has been considered a refuge region of the formerly widespread subtropical lauroid flora that lived in Southern Europe during the Tertiary. The study of relict angiosperms has shown that Macaronesian relict taxa preserve genetic variation and revealed general patterns of colonization and dispersal. However, information on the conservation of genetic diversity and range dynamics rapidly diminishes when referring to pteridophytes, despite their dominance of the herbaceous stratum in the European tropical palaeoflora. Here we aim to elucidate the pattern of genetic diversity and phylogeography of Diplazium caudatum, a hypothesized species of the Tertiary Palaeotropical flora and currently with its populations restricted across Macaronesia and disjunctly in the Sierras de Algeciras (Andalusia, southern Iberian Peninsula). We analysed 12 populations across the species range using eight microsatellite loci, sequences of a region of plastid DNA, and carry out species-distribution modelling analyses. Our dating results confirm the Tertiary origin of this species. The Macaronesian archipelagos served as a refuge during at least the Quaternary glacial cycles, where populations of D. caudatum preserved higher levels of genetic variation than mainland populations. Our data suggest the disappearance of the species in the continent and the subsequent recolonization from Macaronesia. The results of the AMOVA analysis and the indices of clonal diversity and linkage disequilibrium suggest that D. caudatum is a species in which inter-gametophytic outcrossing predominates, and that in the Andalusian populations there was a shift in mating system toward increased inbreeding and/or clonality. The model that best explains the genetic diversity distribution pattern observed in Macaronesia is, the initial and recurrent colonization between islands and archipelagos and the relatively recent diversification of restricted area lineages, probably due to the decrease of favorable habitats and competition with lineages previously established. This study extends to ferns the concept of Macaronesia archipelagos as refugia for genetic variation.