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Keywords:

  • Anacardiaceae;
  • biogeography;
  • disjunction;
  • eastern Asia;
  • neotropics;
  • North America;
  • phylogenetics;
  • Toxicodendron

Abstract Toxicodendron is a genus in the Rhus complex of Anacardiaceae with a disjunct distribution between eastern Asia and North America, extending to southeastern Asia and the neotropics. Nuclear (internal transcribed spacer, external transcribed spacer, and NIA-i3) and chloroplast (ndhF and trnL-F) sequences were used to construct phylogenetic relationships of Toxicodendron. Phylogenetic analysis of these data strongly support Toxicodendron as a monophyletic group distinct from other genera of the Rhus complex, and the phylogeny does not fully corroborate classification at the sectional level. Two temperate disjunct lineages were detected, one from section Toxicodendron and the other between the eastern North American Toxicodendron vernix and the eastern Asian Toxicodendron vernicifluum. Their divergence times were estimated to be 13.46 (7.95–19.42) and 7.53 (2.76–12.86) mya, respectively. The disjunction between section Griffithii (taxa from warm temperate to tropical Asia) and Toxicodendron striatum (from the neotropics) was supported and their divergence time was estimated to be 20.84 (11.16–30.52) mya in the early Miocene. Our biogeographic results and the paleontological data support the Bering land bridge as the most likely route to explain the temperate disjunctions, yet the tropical disjunction in Toxicodendron seems to be best explained by the North Atlantic land bridge hypothesis.