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Key Processes for Cheirolophus (Asteraceae) Diversification on Oceanic Islands Inferred from AFLP Data

We have the pleasure to present the publication of a recent paper from our team of the GSAD database. Cheirolophus mapCongratulations to the authors!

Again, it is a new outcome of research in genus Cheirolophus which has been studied from the genome size perspective in the past. Now it is the turn of AFLP data. Read here the abstract:

The radiation of the genus Cheirolophus (Asteraceae) in Macaronesia constitutes a spectacular case of rapid diversification on oceanic islands. Twenty species – nine of them included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – have been described to date inhabiting the Madeiran and Canarian archipelagos. A previous phylogenetic study revealed that the diversification ofCheirolophus in Macaronesia started less than 2 Ma. As a result of such an explosive speciation process, limited phylogenetic resolution was reported, mainly due to the low variability of the employed molecular markers. In the present study, we used highly polymorphic AFLP markers to i) evaluate species’ boundaries, ii) infer their evolutionary relationships and iii) investigate the patterns of genetic diversity in relation to the potential processes likely involved in the radiation of Cheirolophus. One hundred and seventy-two individuals representing all Macaronesian Cheirolophus species were analysed using 249 AFLP loci. Our results suggest that geographic isolation played an important role in this radiation process. This was likely driven by the combination of poor gene flow capacity and a good ability for sporadic long-distance colonisations. In addition, we also found some traces of introgression and incipient ecological adaptation, which could have further enhanced the extraordinary diversification of Cheirolophus in Macaronesia. Last, we hypothesize that current threat categories assigned to Macaronesian Cheirolophus species do not reflect their respective evolutionary relevance, so future evaluations of their conservation status should take into account the results presented here.

The publication can be downloaded here

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