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Keywords:

  • AFLP;
  • Alps;
  • cpDNA;
  • hybridization;
  • phylogeography;
  • Veronica

Abstract

The Veronica alpina complex comprises eight species of alpine habitats over a wide range of mountain systems in the Northern Hemisphere. The occurrence of sympatric species in the European and North American mountain systems allowed us not only to investigate the effect of the ice ages on intraspecific phylogeographical patterns and genetic diversity in different continents of the Northern Hemisphere, but also to compare these patterns in closely related species. Plastid DNA trnL-F sequences and AFLP (amplified fragment length polymorphism) fingerprints were used to infer the phylogenetic history of the group and phylogeographical patterns within species. Hybrid origin of tetraploid eastern North American V. wormskjoldii from western North American V. nutans (= V. wormskjoldii s.l.) and Eurasian V. alpina is suggested. A number of phylogeographical groups have been found both in V. alpina from Europe and in V. nutans from western North America. Phylogeographical substructuring in the Alps is inferred for V. alpina but not for V. bellidioides, which is moreover characterized by an overall very low genetic diversity. Western North American V. cusickii is much more genetically diverse than its sympatric relative, V. nutans, an effect that is likely due to differences in the breeding system. Populations of V. nutans are differentiated into three groups, those from the Cascades and from the southern and the northern Rocky Mountains. Genetic diversity seems to be higher in the North American V. nutans than in the morphologically and ecologically similar European V. alpina. A possible scenario to explain this pattern is suggested.