Species/geographic boundaries and evolutionary interrelationships of cultivated linden-trees (Tilia L.) based on morphological and nrDNA ITS characteristics

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Research Paper 01/11/2014
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Species/geographic boundaries and evolutionary interrelationships of cultivated linden-trees (Tilia L.) based on morphological and nrDNA ITS characteristics

Melosik I, Ciupińska M., Winnicka K., Koukoulas G.
J. Bio. Env. Sci.5( 5), 90-118, November 2014.
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Nuclear ribosomal transcribed spacers (ITS1-5.8S rRNA-ITS2) is a popular marker that has superior taxa resolution in some groups of organisms. A taxonomic reassessment of 27 Tilia taxa combining a molecular marker (ITS1-5.8S rRNA-ITS2) and morphological characters (40 characteristics of 1,307 leaves and 1,146 fruits) was performed to: (1) evaluate nrDNA ITS as a potential barcode for Tilia species-level identification, (2) detect geographic differentiation pattern of Tilia trees originated from Europe, Asia, and North America and cultivated in common garden conditions, (3) compare Tilia hybrids and their putative parental species. We demonstrate that: (1) intra-individual and intra- morphospecies site polymorphism (2ISP) in ITS sequences occurs; (2) ITS variants in vegetatively propagated hybrids differ from variants in putative parental species; (3) geographical patterns of genetic and morphological differentiation were detected; (4) the majority of hybrids clustered around one of the parental species. The resulting poorly resolved relationship in the phylogenetic analyses (Maximum Parsimony and Maximum Likelihood) can be explained in terms of data quality (low number of parsimony informative sites, high level of homoplasy), the influence of hybridization on the phylogeny, or other issues. The ITS spacers should be excluded as a potential single barcode due to the existence of 2ISPs. We concluded that our ITS survey is not exhaustive because ITS variants in vegetatively propagated hybrids differ from variants in their parental species. A dichotomous key based mainly on qualitative morphological traits is constructed for the cultivated Tilia taxa.


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