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Phylogeographic analysis of North American populations of the parasitic herbaceous plant Monotropa hypopitys L. reveals a complex history of range expansion from multiple late glacial refugia


Jim Provan, School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland, UK.


Aim  We carried out a phylogeographic study across the range of the herbaceous plant species Monotropa hypopitys L. in North America to determine whether its current disjunct distribution is due to recolonization from separate eastern and western refugia after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).

Location  North America: Pacific Northwest and north-eastern USA/south-eastern Canada.

Methods  Palaeodistribution modelling was carried out to determine suitable climatic regions for M. hypopitys at the LGM. We analysed between 155 and 176 individuals from 39 locations spanning the species’ entire range in North America. Sequence data were obtained for the chloroplast rps2 gene (= 168) and for the nuclear ITS region (= 158). Individuals were also genotyped for eight microsatellite loci (= 176). Interpolation of diversity values was used to visualize the range-wide distribution of genetic diversity for each of the three marker classes. Minimum spanning networks were constructed showing the relationships between the rps2 and ITS haplotypes, and the geographical distributions of these haplotypes were plotted. The numbers of genetic clusters based on the microsatellite data were estimated using Bayesian clustering approaches.

Results  The palaeodistribution modelling indicated suitable climate envelopes for M. hypopitys at the LGM in both the Pacific Northwest and south-eastern USA. High levels of genetic diversity and endemic haplotypes were found in Oregon, the Alexander Archipelago, Wisconsin, and in the south-eastern part of the species’ distribution range.

Main conclusions  Our results suggest a complex recolonization history for M. hypopitys in North America, involving persistence in separate eastern and western refugia. A generally high degree of congruence between the different marker classes analysed indicated the presence of multiple refugia, with at least two refugia in each area. In the west, putative refugia were identified in Oregon and the Alexander Archipelago, whereas eastern refugia may have been located in the southern part of the species’ current distribution, as well as in the ‘Driftless Area’. These findings are in contrast to a previous study on the related species Orthilia secunda, which has a similar disjunct distribution to M. hypopitys, but which appears to have recolonized solely from western refugia.