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Phylogeographic analysis of the endemic species Sibiraea angustata reveals a marginal refugium in the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau


  • Yizhong Duan,

  • Qingbo Gao,

  • Faqi Zhang,

  • Yinghu Li,

  • Pengcheng Fu,

  • Shilong Chen

Y. Duan, Q. Gao, F. Zhang, Y. Li, P. Fu and S. Chen (, Key Lab of Adaptation and Evolution of Plateau Biota, Northwest Inst. of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN-810001 Xining, PR China. YD, FZ, YL and PF also at: Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN-100039 Beijing, PR China.


The phylogeography of Sibiraea angustata, an endemic shrub species, was studied in the Qinghai–Tibet plateau (QTP). We investigated 466 individuals of S. angustata from 39 populations basically covering its total distribution area. Eight haplotypes (A–H) were detected by sequencing the intergenic chloroplast spacer trnS–trnG (600 bp), and one ancestral haplotype (A) was found to be widely distributed. The level of differentiation among populations was very high (GST=0.768; NST=0.850) and a significant phylogeographical structure was revealed (NST>GST). Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) similarily revealed a high level of differentiation among populations (84%, FST=0.842), indicating that little gene flow has occurred among populations mutually isolated by high mountains and rivers in the QTP. On the QTP platform there was only one widespread haplotype (A) in most populations, while populations along the eastern and southeastern edges had high diversity and unique haplotypes. Our results suggest that a glacial refugium may have been located on the eastern or southeastern edges of QTP during the last glaciation, and that interglacial and postglacial range expansion occurred from that refugium. Nested clade analysis (NCA) also suggests this scenario, which indicates that the current spatial distribution of cpDNA haplotypes and populations mainly resulted from long distance colonization, possibly coupled with subsequent or past fragmentation followed by range expansion and allopatric fragmentation.