Róis, A.S., Sádio, F., Paulo, O.S., Teixeira, G., Paes, A.P., Espírito-Santo, D., Sharbel, T.F. & Caperta, A.D. (2016) Phylogeography and modes of reproduction in diploid and tetraploid halophytes of Limonium species (Plumbaginaceae): evidence for a pattern of geographical parthenogenesis.Annales of Botany, 117(1), 37-50. DOI:10.1093/aob/mcv138 (IF2016 4,041; Q1 Plant Sciences)
The genus Limonium (Plumbaginaceae) has long been recognized to have sexual and apomictic (asexual seed formation) modes of reproduction. This study aimed to elucidate phylogeographical patterns and modes of reproduction in diploid and tetraploid Limonium species, namely three putative sexual diploid species with morphological affinities (L. nydeggeri, L. ovalifolium, L. lanceolatum) and three related, probably apomict tetraploid species (L. binervosum, L. dodartii, L. multiflorum).
cpDNA diversity and differentiation between natural populations of the species were investigated using two chloroplast sequence regions (trnL intron and trnL-trnF intergenic spacer). Floral heteromorphies, ovule cytoembryological analyses and pollination and crossing tests were performed in representative species of each ploidy group, namely diploid L. ovalifolium and tetraploid L. multiflorum, using plants from greenhouse collections.
Genetic analyses showed that diploid species have a higher haplotype diversity and a higher number of unique (endemic) haplotypes than tetraploid species. Network analysis revealed correlations between cpDNA haplotype distribution and ploidy groups, species groups and geographical origin, and haplotype sharing within and among species with distinct ploidy levels. Reproductive biology analyses showed that diploid L. ovalifolium mainly forms meiotically reduced tetrasporic embryo sacs of Gagea ova, Adoxa and Drusa types. Limonium multiflorum, however, has only unreduced, diplosporic (apomictic) embryo sacs of Rudbeckia type, and autonomous apomictic development seems to occur. Taken together, the findings provide evidence of a pattern of 'geographical parthenogenesis' in which quaternary climatic oscillations appear to be involved in the geographical patterns of coastal diploid and tetraploid Limonium species.