Phylogeography of Iris missouriensis (Iridaceae) based on nuclear and chloroplast markers


R. Scott Cornman, Department of Cell Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA. Fax: 706-542-4271; E-mail:


We investigated the phylogeography of Iris missouriensis (Iridaceae), which is widely distributed in western North America. We utilized transposon display and DNA sequencing to quantify nuclear and chloroplast genetic structure. Our objectives were (i) to characterize the geographic structure of genetic variation throughout the species range, (ii) to test whether both margins of the range show reduced genetic diversity as predicted by north–south expansion and contraction associated with climate change, and (iii) to determine whether the subspecies Iris missouriensis ssp. longipetala is genetically distinct. We found that genetic diversity was significantly lower in the northern part of the range but was not significantly different between the central and southern regions, indicating greater stability of the southern margin vs. the northern. Among-population differentiation was high (ΦPT = 0.52). The largest divisions in each marker set were concordant and separated the southern Rocky Mountains and Basin and Range provinces from the remainder of the range. The boundaries of this phylogeographic break do not coincide with gaps in present-day distributions or phylogeographic breaks identified in other species, and may indicate a measure of reproductive isolation. Consistent with current treatments, we did not find support for the taxonomic placement of I. missourienis ssp. longipetala as a distinct species. Although transposon display has been used to investigate relationships among crop accessions and their wild relatives, to our knowledge, this is the first use of these markers for population-level phylogeography of a nonmodel species and further demonstrates their utility in species recalcitrant to amplified fragment length polymorphism protocols.