Insights into Neogene Mediterranean biogeography based on phylogenetic relationships of mountain and lowland lineages of Narcissus (Amaryllidaceae)


Rocío Santos-Gally, Departamento de Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Universidad de Sevilla, Apartado 1095, 41080 Sevilla, Spain. E-mail:


Aim  Our aims were: (1) to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships of daffodils (Narcissus), focusing on the lowland subgenus Hermione and the mountain section Apodanthi; (2) to estimate the temporal setting of diversification; (3) to reconstruct the migration patterns of the lineages; and (4) to examine the microevolutionary differentiation of the wide-ranging Narcissus tazetta group across the Mediterranean.

Location  The Mediterranean Basin.

Methods  Plastid (trnT–L, trnL–F and ndhF) sequences were obtained from 63 populations representing 23 species of Narcissus and combined with published data from 16 species. Phylogenetic relationships and dating were inferred by Bayesian analysis based on geological events and divergence estimates of closely related taxa. A dispersal–extinction–cladogenesis analysis was performed using maximum likelihood methods to infer ancestral geographical distributions, and phylogeographical reconstruction was performed using coalescence analysis.

Results  Subgenus Hermione is not recognized as a monophyletic group because two of the nine species were found to have a close relationship with the subgenus Narcissus. The results on section Apodanthi confirmed previous findings of its monophyly and phylogenetic relationships within this mountain group. Molecular dating and ancestral range reconstructions suggest that the ancestor of Narcissus originated in the Iberian Peninsula during the Late Oligocene–Early Miocene. Eastward expansion of the lineage range proceeded from the western Mediterranean and involved colonization of mountain ranges in northern Africa. The phylogeography of the N. tazetta group revealed a widespread distribution of certain haplotypes, suggesting wide dispersal and a high level of colonization in the Mediterranean Basin.

Main conclusions  Our study points to the role of three key historical events in Narcissus diversification: tectonic shifts of the Alboran domain in the western Mediterranean, the Messinian salinity crisis, and the onset of the Mediterranean climate followed by periods of repeated glaciation. Diversification of section Apodanthi probably resulted from allopatric speciation, while subgenus Hermione may have shown more sympatric speciation and high dispersal, despite the lack of apparent adaptations to long-distance dispersal. This is best exemplified by the presence of both ancestral and recent haplotypes of N. tazetta across the Mediterranean.