SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • Arctic-alpine plants;
  • cpDNA;
  • phylogeography;
  • Pleistocene glaciations;
  • refugia

Abstract

The ranges of arctic–alpine species have shifted extensively with Pleistocene climate changes and glaciations. Using sequence data from the trnH-psbA and trnT-trnL chloroplast DNA spacer regions, we investigated the phylogeography of the widespread, ancient (>3 million years) arctic–alpine plant Oxyria digyna (Polygonaceae). We identified 45 haplotypes and six highly divergent major lineages; estimated ages of these lineages (time to most recent common ancestor, TMRCA) ranged from ∼0.5 to 2.5 million years. One lineage is widespread in the arctic, a second is restricted to the southern Rocky Mountains of the western United States, and a third was found only in the Himalayan and Altai regions of Asia. Three other lineages are widespread in western North America, where they overlap extensively. The high genetic diversity and the presence of divergent major cpDNA lineages within Oxyria digyna reflect its age and suggest that it was widespread during much of its history. The distributions of individual lineages indicate repeated spread of Oxyria digyna through North America over multiple glacial cycles. During the Last Glacial Maximum it persisted in multiple refugia in western North America, including Beringia, south of the continental ice, and within the northern limits of the Cordilleran ice sheet. Our data contribute to a growing body of evidence that arctic–alpine species have migrated from different source regions over multiple glacial cycles and that cryptic refugia contributed to persistence through the Last Glacial Maximum.