Herbarium collection-based phylogenetics of the ragweeds (Ambrosia, Asteraceae)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 2018, 120 335-341. 10.1016/j.ympev.2017.12.023
Ambrosia (Asteraceae) is a taxonomically difficult genus of weedy, wind-pollinated plants with an apparent center of diversity in the Sonoran Desert of North America. Determining Ambrosia’s evolutionary relationships has been the subject of much interest, with numerous studies using morphological characters, cytology, comparative phytochemistry, and chloroplast restriction site variation to produce conflicting accounts the relationships between Ambrosia species, as well as the classification of their close relatives in Franseria and Hymenoclea. To resolve undetermined intra-generic relationships within Ambrosia, we used DNA extracted from tissues obtained from seed banks and herbarium collections to generate multi-locus genetic data representing nearly all putative species, including four from South America. We performed Bayesian and Maximum-Likelihood phylogenetic analyses of six chloroplast-genome and two nuclear-genome markers, enabling us to infer monophyly for the genus, resolve major infra-generic species clusters, as well as to resolve open questions about the evolutionary relationships of several Ambrosia species and former members of Franseria. We also provide molecular data supporting the hypothesis that A. sandersonii formed through the hybridization of A. eriocentra and A. salsola. The topology of our chloroplast DNA phylogeny is almost entirely congruent with the most recent molecular work based on chloroplast restriction site variation of a much more limited sampling of 14 North American species of Ambrosia, although our improved sampling of global Ambrosia diversity enables us to draw additional conclusions. As our study is the first direct DNA sequence-based phylogenetic analyses of Ambrosia, we analyze the data in relation to previous taxonomic studies and discuss several instances of chloroplast/nuclear incongruence that leave the precise geographic center of origin of Ambrosia in question.