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Barbulescu, Elisabeth V. I.; Patzak, Simon D. F.; Feldberg, Kathrin; Schäfer-Verwimp, Alfons; Rycroft, David S.; Renner, Matt A. M. and Heinrichs, Jochen (2017): Allopolyploid origin of the leafy liverwort Plagiochila britannica (Plagiochilaceae). In: Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol. 183, No. 2: pp. 250-259

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Allopolyploidy is an important mode of speciation in angiosperms, ferns and mosses, but has been considered of little importance in liverworts. The few known examples include taxa of the simple thalloid genus Pellia, the complex thalloid genera Corsinia, Reboulia and Targionia and the leafy liverworts Barbilophozia, Calypogeia and Porella. The diploid Plagiochila britannica has alternatively been considered an autopolyploid derivative of Plagiochila porelloides or an allopolyploid of Plagiochila asplenioides and P. porelloides;however, experimental evidence is still lacking. Here we present phylogenetic analyses of the P. asplenioides-P. britannica-P. porelloides complex based on a sampling of 37 accessions and plastid DNA rps4 and rbcL and nuclear ribosomal ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 sequences. Plastid DNA sequences of four accessions of P. britannica cluster with P. asplenioides, whereas nrITS sequences of P. britannica cluster with P. porelloides. We thus conclude that P. britannica is an allopolyploid hybrid of P. asplenioides and P. porelloides, with P. asplenioides the probable donor of the plastome and P. porelloides of the nuclear DNA. Contrary to earlier belief, P. britannica is not closely related to Plagiochila arctica. European and North American accessions of P. porelloides form sister lineages. A putative accession of P. asplenioides from Canada forms a separate lineage and may represent another taxon.

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