- • Achillea, a temperate genus of herbaceous allogamous perennials, is a model for evolutionary radiation through hybridization and polyploidization.
- • AFLP analyses were performed on 300 individuals of 66 populations and 27 taxa/cytotypes, mainly from the polyploid A. millefolium aggregate and its suspected hybrid links with other clades of the genus.
- • The mosaic genetic structure of hybrids and polyploids is revealed by specific AFLP bands shared with their assumed parents. In E Asia, A. alpina-4x and A. wilsoniana-4x are allotetraploids between A. acuminata-2x (sect. Ptarmica) and A. asiatica-2x (sect. Achillea-A. millefolium agg.). A. virescens-4x is a hybrid species linking A. nobilis agg. and A. millefolium agg. in S Europe. The hybrid swarm A. clypeolata-2x ¥ A. collina-4x recently formed in Bulgaria shows no AFLP bands additive to its parents; by contrast, other more ancient allopolyploids exhibit genetic innovations. Relationships within A. millefolium agg. are complex. Five 2x-taxa, mostly well separated and regressive, are limited to Eurasia; seven 4x- and 6x-taxa are intimately linked by hybridization, are expansive, and through A. asiatica-2x/4x have formed the N American polyploids.
- • All these results from AFLPs correspond well to other evidence, and indicate a long history of reticulate evolution in Achillea.