Chloroplast DNA phylogeography of European ashes, Fraxinus sp. (Oleaceae): roles of hybridization and life history traits


Giovanni G. Vendramin, Fax: 0039 055 5225729; E-mail:


We investigated range-wide phylogeographic variation in three European ash species (Fraxinus sp., Oleaceae). Chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) microsatellites were typed in the thermophilous Fraxinus angustifolia and Fraxinus ornus and the observed haplotypes and the geographic distribution of diversity were compared to cpDNA data previously obtained in the more cold-tolerant Fraxinus excelsior. We found wide-ranging haplotype sharing between the phylogenetically close F. angustifolia and F. excelsior, suggesting hybridization (i) in common glacial refuges in the Iberian Peninsula, northern Italy, the eastern and/or Dinaric Alps and the Balkan Peninsula, and/or (ii) during postglacial recolonization. The data allowed us to propose additional glacial refuges for F. angustifolia in southern Italy and in Turkey, and populations from the latter region were particularly polymorphic. There was evidence for refuge areas in Italy, the Balkan Peninsula and Turkey for F. ornus, which did not share any single chloroplast haplotype with the other species. In both F. angustifolia and F. ornus, cpDNA diversity (hS = 0.027 and hS = 0.009, respectively) was lower and fixation levels (GST = 0.964 and GST = 0.983, respectively) higher than in sympatric F. excelsior (hS = 0.096, GST = 0.870). These diversity patterns could be due to temperature tolerance or the demographic history.