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Lee, Gaik Ee; Condamine, Fabien L.; Bechteler, Julia; Perez-Escobar, Oscar Alejandro; Scheben, Armin; Schäfer-Verwimp, Alfons; Pocs, Tamas and Heinrichs, Jochen (2020): An ancient tropical origin, dispersals via land bridges and Miocene diversification explain the subcosmopolitan disjunctions of the liverwort genus Lejeunea. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 10, No. 1, 14123 [PDF, 6MB]


Understanding the biogeographical and diversification processes explaining current diversity patterns of subcosmopolitan-distributed groups is challenging. We aimed at disentangling the historical biogeography of the subcosmopolitan liverwort genus Lejeunea with estimation of ancestral areas of origin and testing if sexual system and palaeotemperature variations can be factors of diversification. We assembled a dense taxon sampling for 120 species sampled throughout the geographical distribution of the genus. Lejeunea diverged from its sister group after the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (52.2 Ma, 95% credibility intervals 50.1-54.2 Ma), and the initial diversification of the crown group occurred in the early to middle Eocene (44.5 Ma, 95% credibility intervals 38.5-50.8 Ma). The DEC model indicated that (1) Lejeunea likely originated in an area composed of the Neotropics and the Nearctic, (2) dispersals through terrestrial land bridges in the late Oligocene and Miocene allowed Lejeunea to colonize the Old World, (3) the Boreotropical forest covering the northern regions until the late Eocene did not facilitate Lejeunea dispersals, and (4) a single long-distance dispersal event was inferred between the Neotropics and Africa. Biogeographical and diversification analyses show the Miocene was an important period when Lejeunea diversified globally. We found slight support for higher diversification rates of species with both male and female reproductive organs on the same individual (monoicy), and a moderate positive influence of palaeotemperatures on diversification. Our study shows that an ancient origin associated with a dispersal history facilitated by terrestrial land bridges and not long-distance dispersals are likely to explain the subcosmopolitan distribution of Lejeunea. By enhancing the diversification rates, monoicy likely favoured the colonisations of new areas, especially in the Miocene that was a key epoch shaping the worldwide distribution.

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