The origin of bird pollination in Macaronesian Lotus (Loteae, Leguminosae)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2012
Authors:Ojeda, I, SANTOS-GUERRA, ARNOLDO, Jaén-Molina, R, Oliva-Tejera, F, Caujapé-Castells, J, Cronk, Q
Journal:Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Date Published:2012
ISBN Number:1055-7903
Keywords:bird pollination, Canary islands, CYCLOIDEA, dating, Fringillidae, Macaronesia, molecular phylogeny, Pedrosia, Rhyncholotus, Serinus, Serinus canaria, Species paraphyly
Abstract:The four red-flowered, apparently bird-pollinated Lotus species from the Canary Islands have previously been classified in their own genus, Rhyncholotus. Currently, they are considered as a separate section within genus Lotus, distinct from other herbaceous Canarian congeners which are yellow-flowered and bee-pollinated. A combined analysis of four nuclear regions (including ITS and three homologues of CYCLOIDEA) and three plastid regions (CYB6, matK and trnH-psbA) nests the four bird-pollinated species within a single extant species of bee-pollinated Lotus (L. sessilifolius), in a very extreme example of species paraphyly. Therefore, our data compellingly support the hypothesis that the Macaronesian Lotus species with a bird pollination syndrome are recently derived from entomophilous ancestors. Calibration of the phylogenetic trees using geological age estimates of the most recent islands (La Palma and El Hierro) together with oldest ages of Fuerteventura indicates that bird pollination evolved ca. 1.7 Ma in the Canarian Lotus. These four bird-pollinated species share a most recent common ancestor (MRCA) with L. sessilifolius that dates to about 2.2 Ma. Our analyses further suggest that the evolution of the bird pollination syndrome was likely triggered by the availability of new niches in La Palma and Tenerife as a result of recent volcanic activity.
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