Disjunct distribution of chloroplast DNA haplotypes in the understory perennial Veratrum album ssp. oxysepalum (Melanthiaceae) in Japan as a result of ancient introgression


Author for correspondence:
Masayuki Maki
Tel: +81 22 795 6690
Email: maki@mail.tains.tohoku.ac.jp


  • The Quaternary climatic changes resulted in range shifts of species, providing chances for hybridization. However, the genetic signatures of such ancient introgression have rarely been reported. To investigate such signatures, we performed a phylogeographical study on the perennial plant Veratrum album ssp. oxysepalum, which may have hybridized long ago with another congeneric species, V. stamineum.
  • Sequence variations in chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) were examined in 43 populations in Japan and adjacent areas. Phylogenetic analyses of different cpDNA haplotypes were conducted on the basis of cpDNA and nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (nrITS) variations.
  • In the Japanese archipelago, two major groups of haplotypes were detected, one of which was distributed in a disjunct pattern. The major haplotype, occupying the central part of the species’ distribution, formed a monophyletic group with V. stamineum in phylogenetic trees on the basis of cpDNA variation, although the two species did not form a monophyletic group in phylogenetic trees on the basis of nrITS variation.
  • Historical hybridization between V. album ssp. oxysepalum and V. stamineum in refugia during the Quaternary climatic oscillations, and the resulting chloroplast capture of V. stamineum by V. album ssp. oxysepalum, are most probably responsible for the disjunct distribution of cpDNA in V. album ssp. oxysepalum.