Journal Article

Evolution of exceptional species richness among lineages of fleshy-fruited Myrtaceae

Ed Biffin, Eve J. Lucas, Lyn A. Craven, Itayguara Ribeiro da Costa, Mark G. Harrington and Michael D. Crisp

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 106, issue 1, pages 79-93
Published in print July 2010 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online May 2010 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcq088
Evolution of exceptional species richness among lineages of fleshy-fruited Myrtaceae

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

The angiosperm family Myrtaceae comprises 17 tribes with more than half of the estimated 5500 species being referred to the fleshy-fruited and predominantly rainforest associated Syzygieae and Myrteae. Previous studies suggest that fleshy fruits have evolved separately in these lineages, whereas generally shifts in fruit morphology have been variously implicated in diversification rate shifts among angiosperms. A phylogenetic hypothesis and estimate divergence times for Myrtaceae is developed as a basis to explore the evidence for, and drivers of, elevated diversification rates among the fleshy-fruited tribes of Myrtaceae.

Methods

Bayesian phylogenetic analyses of plastid and nuclear DNA sequences were used to estimate intertribal relationships and lineage divergence times in Myrtaceae. Focusing on the fleshy-fruited tribes, a variety of statistical approaches were used to assess diversification rates and diversification rate shifts across the family.

Key Results

Analyses of the sequence data provide a strongly supported phylogenetic hypothesis for Myrtaceae. Relative to previous studies, substantially younger ages for many of the clades are reported, and it is argued that the use of flexible calibrations to incorporate fossil data provides more realistic divergence estimates than the use of errorless point calibrations. It is found that Syzygieae and Myrteae have experienced elevated diversification rates relative to other lineages of Myrtaceae. Positive shifts in diversification rate have occurred separately in each lineage, associated with a shift from dry to fleshy fruit.

Conclusions

Fleshy fruits have evolved independently in Syzygieae and Myrteae, and this is accompanied by exceptional diversification rate shifts in both instances, suggesting that the evolution of fleshy fruits is a key innovation for rainforest Myrtaceae. Noting the scale dependency of this hypothesis, more complex explanations may be required to explain diversification rate shifts occurring within the fleshy-fruited tribes, and the suggested phylogenetic hypothesis provides an appropriate framework for this undertaking.

Keywords: Myrtaceae; Myrtoideae; Myrteae; Syzygieae; phylogeny; molecular dating; speciation; diversification rates

Journal Article.  9364 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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