• Geographic variation;
  • gynodioecy;
  • Iberian Peninsula;
  • ITS;
  • microevolution;
  • molecular markers;
  • phylogeography

Recent phylogenetic analyses of sexual reproductive systems supported the evolutionary pathway from hermaphroditism to dioecy via gynodioecy in different groups of angiosperms. In this study, we explore the evolution of sexual reproductive systems in Daphne laureola L. (Thymelaeaceae), a species with variation in reproductive system among population. Sequences from the ITS region of the nuclear ribosomal cistron and two plastid markers (psbA-trnH and ndhF) were analyzed and used to map the population reproductive system along the molecular phylogeny. Our results support D. laureola as a monophyletic lineage with three different clades within the Iberian Peninsula. The hermaphroditic populations belong to two different clades, whereas gynodioecy is ubiquitous but characteristic of the third clade, which grouped together all the North-Western Iberian populations sampled, including the apparently oldest haplotype sampled. Gynodioecy appears as the most likely basal condition of the 13 analyzed populations, but different evolutionary transitions in reproductive sexual system were traced within each D. laureola clade. Both ecological conditions and (meta)population dynamics may help explain plant reproductive system evolution at the microevolutionary scale. Phylogenetic studies in which the historical relationships between populations differing in reproductive system can be ascertained will help to clarify the process.