Ferns are one of the few remaining major clades of land plants for which a complete genome sequence is lacking. Knowledge of genome space in ferns will enable broad-scale comparative analyses of land plant genes and genomes, provide insights into genome evolution across green plants, and shed light on genetic and genomic features that characterize ferns, such as their high chromosome numbers and large genome sizes. As part of an initial exploration into fern genome space, we used a whole genome shotgun sequencing approach to obtain low-density coverage (∼0.4X to 2X) for six fern species from the Polypodiales (Ceratopteris, Pteridium, Polypodium, Cystopteris), Cyatheales (Plagiogyria), and Gleicheniales (Dipteris). We explore these data to characterize the proportion of the nuclear genome represented by repetitive sequences (including DNA transposons, retrotransposons, ribosomal DNA, and simple repeats) and protein-coding genes, and to extract chloroplast and mitochondrial genome sequences. Such initial sweeps of fern genomes can provide information useful for selecting a promising candidate fern species for whole genome sequencing. We also describe variation of genomic traits across our sample and highlight some differences and similarities in repeat structure between ferns and seed plants.
•Understanding fern (monilophyte) phylogeny and its evolutionary timescale is critical for broad investigations of the evolution of land plants, and for providing the point of comparison necessary for studying the evolution of the fern sister group, seed plants. Molecular phylogenetic investigations have revolutionized our understanding of fern phylogeny, however, to date, these studies have relied almost exclusively on plastid data.•Here we take a curated phylogenomics approach to infer the first broad fern phylogeny from multiple nuclear loci, by combining broad taxon sampling (73 ferns and 12 outgroup species) with focused character sampling (25 loci comprising 35877 bp), along with rigorous alignment, orthology inference and model selection.•Our phylogeny corroborates some earlier inferences and provides novel insights; in particular, we find strong support for Equisetales as sister to the rest of ferns, Marattiales as sister to leptosporangiate ferns, and Dennstaedtiaceae as sister to the eupolypods. Our divergence-time analyses reveal that divergences among the extant fern orders all occurred prior to ∼200 MYA. Finally, our species-tree inferences are congruent with analyses of concatenated data, but generally with lower support. Those cases where species-tree support values are higher than expected involve relationships that have been supported by smaller plastid datasets, suggesting that deep coalescence may be reducing support from the concatenated nuclear data.•Our study demonstrates the utility of a curated phylogenomics approach to inferring fern phylogeny, and highlights the need to consider underlying data characteristics, along with data quantity, in phylogenetic studies.
A fern from the French Pyrenees-×Cystocarpium roskamianum-is a recently formed intergeneric hybrid between parental lineages that diverged from each other approximately 60 million years ago (mya; 95% highest posterior density: 40.2-76.2 mya). This is an extraordinarily deep hybridization event, roughly akin to an elephant hybridizing with a manatee or a human with a lemur. In the context of other reported deep hybrids, this finding suggests that populations of ferns, and other plants with abiotically mediated fertilization, may evolve reproductive incompatibilities more slowly, perhaps because they lack many of the premating isolation mechanisms that characterize most other groups of organisms. This conclusion implies that major features of Earth's biodiversity-such as the relatively small number of species of ferns compared to those of angiosperms-may be, in part, an indirect by-product of this slower "speciation clock" rather than a direct consequence of adaptive innovations by the more diverse lineages.
Plant phototropism, the ability to bend toward or away from light, is predominantly controlled by blue-light photoreceptors, the phototropins. Although phototropins have been well-characterized in Arabidopsis thaliana, their evolutionary history is largely unknown. In this study, we complete an in-depth survey of phototropin homologs across land plants and algae using newly available transcriptomic and genomic data. We show that phototropins originated in an ancestor of Viridiplantae (land plants + green algae). Phototropins repeatedly underwent independent duplications in most major land-plant lineages (mosses, lycophytes, ferns, and seed plants), but remained single-copy genes in liverworts and hornworts-an evolutionary pattern shared with another family of photoreceptors, the phytochromes. Following each major duplication event, the phototropins differentiated in parallel, resulting in two specialized, yet partially overlapping, functional forms that primarily mediate either low- or high-light responses. Our detailed phylogeny enables us to not only uncover new phototropin lineages, but also link our understanding of phototropin function in Arabidopsis with what is known in Adiantum and Physcomitrella (the major model organisms outside of flowering plants). We propose that the convergent functional divergences of phototropin paralogs likely contributed to the success of plants through time in adapting to habitats with diverse and heterogeneous light conditions.
A new species of Adiantum is described from California. This species is endemic to northern California and is currently known only from Shasta County. We describe its discovery after first being collected over a century ago and distinguish it from Adiantumjordanii and Adiantumcapillus-veneris. It is evergreen and is sometimes, but not always, associated with limestone. The range of Adiantumshastense Huiet & A.R.Sm., sp. nov., is similar to several other Shasta County endemics that occur in the mesic forests of the Eastern Klamath Range, close to Shasta Lake, on limestone and metasedimentary substrates.
Phytochromes are red/far-red photoreceptors that play essential roles in diverse plant morphogenetic and physiological responses to light. Despite their functional significance, phytochrome diversity and evolution across photosynthetic eukaryotes remain poorly understood. Using newly available transcriptomic and genomic data we show that canonical plant phytochromes originated in a common ancestor of streptophytes (charophyte algae and land plants). Phytochromes in charophyte algae are structurally diverse, including canonical and non-canonical forms, whereas in land plants, phytochrome structure is highly conserved. Liverworts, hornworts and Selaginella apparently possess a single phytochrome, whereas independent gene duplications occurred within mosses, lycopods, ferns and seed plants, leading to diverse phytochrome families in these clades. Surprisingly, the phytochrome portions of algal and land plant neochromes, a chimera of phytochrome and phototropin, appear to share a common origin. Our results reveal novel phytochrome clades and establish the basis for understanding phytochrome functional evolution in land plants and their algal relatives.
•Many polyploid species are composed of distinct lineages originating from multiple, independent polyploidization events. In the case of allopolyploids, reciprocal crosses between the same progenitor species can yield lineages with different uniparentally inherited plastid genomes. While likely common, there are few well-documented examples of such reciprocal origins. Here we examine a case of reciprocal allopolyploid origins in the fern Polypodium hesperium and present it as a natural model system for investigating the evolutionary potential of duplicated genomes.•Using a combination of uniparentally inherited plastid and biparentally inherited nuclear sequence data, we investigated the distributions and relative ages of reciprocally formed lineages in Polypodium hesperium, an allotetraploid fern that is broadly distributed in western North America.•The reciprocally derived plastid haplotypes of Polypodium hesperium are allopatric, with populations north and south of 42°N latitude having different plastid genomes. Incorporating biogeographic information and previously estimated ages for the diversification of its diploid progenitors, we estimate middle to late Pleistocene origins of P. hesperium.•Several features of Polypodium hesperium make it a particularly promising system for investigating the evolutionary consequences of allopolyploidy. These include reciprocally derived lineages with disjunct geographic distributions, recent time of origin, and extant diploid progenitors.
Ferns are the only major lineage of vascular plants not represented by a sequenced nuclear genome. This lack of genome sequence information significantly impedes our ability to understand and reconstruct genome evolution not only in ferns, but across all land plants. Azolla and Ceratopteris are ideal and complementary candidates to be the first ferns to have their nuclear genomes sequenced. They differ dramatically in genome size, life history, and habit, and thus represent the immense diversity of extant ferns. Together, this pair of genomes will facilitate myriad large-scale comparative analyses across ferns and all land plants. Here we review the unique biological characteristics of ferns and describe a number of outstanding questions in plant biology that will benefit from the addition of ferns to the set of taxa with sequenced nuclear genomes. We explain why the fern clade is pivotal for understanding genome evolution across land plants, and we provide a rationale for how knowledge of fern genomes will enable progress in research beyond the ferns themselves.
Much of science progresses within the tight boundaries of what is often seen as a "black box". Though familiar to funding agencies, researchers and the academic journals they publish in, it is an entity that outsiders rarely get to peek into. Crowdfunding is a novel means that allows the public to participate in, as well as to support and witness advancements in science. Here we describe our recent crowdfunding efforts to sequence the Azolla genome, a little fern with massive green potential. Crowdfunding is a worthy platform not only for obtaining seed money for exploratory research, but also for engaging directly with the general public as a rewarding form of outreach.
Aim: Scaly tree ferns, Cyatheaceae, are a well-supported group of mostly tree-forming ferns found throughout the tropics, the subtropics and the south-temperate zone. Fossil evidence shows that the lineage originated in the Late Jurassic period. We reconstructed large-scale historical biogeographical patterns of Cyatheaceae and tested the hypothesis that some of the observed distribution patterns are in fact compatible, in time and space, with a vicariance scenario related to the break-up of Gondwana. Location: Tropics, subtropics and south-temperate areas of the world. Methods: The historical biogeography of Cyatheaceae was analysed in a maximum likelihood framework using Lagrange. The 78 ingroup taxa are representative of the geographical distribution of the entire family. The phylogenies that served as a basis for the analyses were obtained by Bayesian inference analyses of mainly previously published DNA sequence data using MrBayes. Lineage divergence dates were estimated in a Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo framework using beast. Results: Cyatheaceae originated in the Late Jurassic in either South America or Australasia. Following a range expansion, the ancestral distribution of the marginate-scaled clade included both these areas, whereas Sphaeropteris is reconstructed as having its origin only in Australasia. Within the marginate-scaled clade, reconstructions of early divergences are hampered by the unresolved relationships among the Alsophila, Cyathea and Gymnosphaera lineages. Nevertheless, it is clear that the occurrence of the Cyathea and Sphaeropteris lineages in South America may be related to vicariance, whereas transoceanic dispersal needs to be inferred for the range shifts seen in Alsophila and Gymnosphaera. Main conclusions: The evolutionary history of Cyatheaceae involves both Gondwanan vicariance scenarios as well as long-distance dispersal events. The number of transoceanic dispersals reconstructed for the family is rather few when compared with other fern lineages. We suggest that a causal relationship between reproductive mode (outcrossing) and dispersal limitations is the most plausible explanation for the pattern observed. © 2013 The Authors Journal of Biogeography Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
BACKGROUND: Molecular phylogenetic investigations have revolutionized our understanding of the evolutionary history of ferns-the second-most species-rich major group of vascular plants, and the sister clade to seed plants. The general absence of genomic resources available for this important group of plants, however, has resulted in the strong dependence of these studies on plastid data; nuclear or mitochondrial data have been rarely used. In this study, we utilize transcriptome data to design primers for nuclear markers for use in studies of fern evolutionary biology, and demonstrate the utility of these markers across the largest order of ferns, the Polypodiales. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We present 20 novel single-copy nuclear regions, across 10 distinct protein-coding genes: ApPEFP_C, cryptochrome 2, cryptochrome 4, DET1, gapCpSh, IBR3, pgiC, SQD1, TPLATE, and transducin. These loci, individually and in combination, show strong resolving power across the Polypodiales phylogeny, and are readily amplified and sequenced from our genomic DNA test set (from 15 diploid Polypodiales species). For each region, we also present transcriptome alignments of the focal locus and related paralogs-curated broadly across ferns-that will allow researchers to develop their own primer sets for fern taxa outside of the Polypodiales. Analyses of sequence data generated from our genomic DNA test set reveal strong effects of partitioning schemes on support levels and, to a much lesser extent, on topology. A model partitioned by codon position is strongly favored, and analyses of the combined data yield a Polypodiales phylogeny that is well-supported and consistent with earlier studies of this group. CONCLUSIONS: The 20 single-copy regions presented here more than triple the single-copy nuclear regions available for use in ferns. They provide a much-needed opportunity to assess plastid-derived hypotheses of relationships within the ferns, and increase our capacity to explore aspects of fern evolution previously unavailable to scientific investigation.
PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Molecular studies have shown that multiple origins of polyploid taxa are the rule rather than the exception. To understand the distribution and ecology of polyploid species and the evolutionary significance of polyploidy in general, it is important to delineate these independently derived lineages as accurately as possible. Although gene flow among polyploid lineages and backcrossing to their diploid parents often confound this process, such post origin gene flow is very infrequent in asexual polyploids. In this study, we estimate the number of independent origins of the apomictic allopolyploid fern Astrolepis integerrima, a morphologically heterogeneous species most common in the southwestern United States and Mexico, with outlying populations in the southeastern United States and the Caribbean. METHODS: Plastid DNA sequence and AFLP data were obtained from 33 A. integerrima individuals. Phylogenetic analysis of the sequence data and multidimensional clustering of the AFLP data were used to identify independently derived lineages. KEY RESULTS: Analysis of the two datasets identified 10 genetic groups within the 33 analyzed samples. These groups suggest a minimum of 10 origins of A. integerrima in the northern portion of its range, with both putative parents functioning as maternal donors, both supplying unreduced gametes, and both contributing a significant portion of their genetic diversity to the hybrids. CONCLUSIONS: Our results highlight the extreme cryptic genetic diversity and systematic complexity that can underlie a single polyploid taxon.
PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Not all ferns grow in moist, shaded habitats; some lineages thrive in exposed, seasonally dry environments. Notholaenids are a clade of xeric-adapted ferns commonly characterized by the presence of a waxy exudate, called farina, on the undersides of their leaves. Although some other lineages of cheilanthoid ferns also have farinose sporophytes, previous studies suggested that notholaenids are unique in also producing farina on their gametophytes. For this reason, consistent farina expression across life cycle phases has been proposed as a potential synapomorphy for the genus Notholaena. Recent phylogenetic studies have shown two species with nonfarinose sporophytes to be nested within Notholaena, with a third nonfarinose species well supported as sister to all other notholaenids. This finding raises the question: are the gametophytes of these three species farinose like those of their close relatives, or are they glabrous, consistent with their sporophytes? METHODS: We sowed spores of a diversity of cheilanthoid ferns onto culture media to observe and document whether their gametophytes produced farina. To place these species within a phylogenetic context, we extracted genomic DNA, then amplified and sequenced three plastid loci. The aligned data were analyzed using maximum likelihood to generate a phylogenetic tree. KEY RESULTS: Here we show that notholaenids lacking sporophytic farina also lack farina in the gametophytic phase, and notholaenids with sporophytic farina always display gametophytic farina (with a single exception). Outgroup taxa never displayed gametophytic farina, regardless of whether they displayed farina on their sporophytes. CONCLUSIONS: Notholaenids are unique among ferns in consistently expressing farina across both phases of the life cycle.
Backbone relationships within the large eupolypod II clade, which includes nearly a third of extant fern species, have resisted elucidation by both molecular and morphological data. Earlier studies suggest that much of the phylogenetic intractability of this group is due to three factors: (i) a long root that reduces apparent levels of support in the ingroup; (ii) long ingroup branches subtended by a series of very short backbone internodes (the "ancient rapid radiation" model); and (iii) significantly heterogeneous lineage-specific rates of substitution. To resolve the eupolypod II phylogeny, with a particular emphasis on the backbone internodes, we assembled a data set of five plastid loci (atpA, atpB, matK, rbcL, and trnG-R) from a sample of 81 accessions selected to capture the deepest divergences in the clade. We then evaluated our phylogenetic hypothesis against potential confounding factors, including those induced by rooting, ancient rapid radiation, rate heterogeneity, and the Bayesian star-tree paradox artifact. While the strong support we inferred for the backbone relationships proved robust to these potential problems, their investigation revealed unexpected model-mediated impacts of outgroup composition, divergent effects of methods for countering the star-tree paradox artifact, and gave no support to concerns about the applicability of the unrooted model to data sets with heterogeneous lineage-specific rates of substitution. This study is among few to investigate these factors with empirical data, and the first to compare the performance of the two primary methods for overcoming the Bayesian star-tree paradox artifact. Among the significant phylogenetic results is the near-complete support along the eupolypod II backbone, the demonstrated paraphyly of Woodsiaceae as currently circumscribed, and the well-supported placement of the enigmatic genera Homalosorus, Diplaziopsis, and Woodsia.
We present a family-level classification for the eupolypod II clade of leptosporangiate ferns, one of the two major lineages within the Eupolypods, and one of the few parts of the fern tree of life where family-level relationships were not well understood at the time of publication of the 2006 fern classification by Smith & al. Comprising over 2500 species, the composition and particularly the relationships among the major clades of this group have historically been contentious and defied phylogenetic resolution until very recently. Our classification reflects the most current available data, largely derived from published molecular phylogenetic studies. In comparison with the five-family (Aspleniaceae, Blechnaceae, Onocleaceae, Thelypteridaceae, Woodsiaceae) treatment of Smith & al., we recognize 10 families within the eupolypod II clade. Of these, Aspleniaceae, Thelypteridaceae, Blechnaceae, and Onocleaceae have the same composition as treated by Smith & al. Woodsiaceae, which Smith & al. acknowledged as possibly non-monophyletic in their treatment, is circumscribed here to include only Woodsia and its segregates; the other "woodsioid" taxa are divided among Athyriaceae, Cystopteridaceae, Diplaziopsidaceae, Rhachidosoraceae, and Hemidictyaceae. We provide circumscriptions for each family, which summarize their morphological, geographical, and ecological characters, as well as a dichotomous key to the eupolypod II families. Three of these families- Diplaziopsidaceae, Hemidictyaceae, and Rhachidosoraceae-were described in the past year based on molecular phylogenetic analyses; we provide here their first morphological treatment.
Ongoing molecular phylogenetic studies of cheilanthoid ferns confirm that the genus Cheilanthes (Pteridaceae) is polyphyletic. A monophyletic group of species within the hemionitid clade informally called the "C. marginata group" is here shown to be distinct from its closest relatives (the genus Aspidotis) and phylogenetically distant from the type species of Cheilanthes. This group is here segregated from Cheilanthes as the newly described genus, Gaga . In this study, we use molecular data from four DNA regions (plastid: matK, rbcL, trnG-R; and nuclear: gapCp) together with spore data to circumscribe the morphological and geographical boundaries of the new genus and investigate reticulate evolution within the group. Gaga is distinguished from Aspidotis by its rounded to attenuate (vs. mucronate) segment apices, minutely bullate margins of mature leaves (vs. smooth at 40 ×), and less prominently lustrous and striate adaxial blade surfaces. The new genus is distinguished from Cheilanthes s. s. by its strongly differentiated, inframarginal pseudoindusia, the production of 64 small or 32 large spores (vs. 32 small or 16 large) per sporangium, and usually glabrous leaf blades. A total of nineteen species are recognized within Gaga; seventeen new combinations are made, and two new species, Gaga germanotta and Gaga monstraparva , are described. © Copyright 2012 by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.
A life-history transition to asexuality is typically viewed as leading to a heightened extinction risk, and a number of studies have evaluated this claim by examining the relative ages of asexual versus closely related sexual lineages. Surprisingly, a rigorous assessment of the age of an asexual plant lineage has never been published, although asexuality is extraordinarily common among plants. Here, we estimate the ages of sexual diploids and asexual polyploids in the fern genus Astrolepis using a well-supported plastid phylogeny and a relaxed-clock dating approach. The 50 asexual polyploid samples we included were conservatively estimated to comprise 19 distinct lineages, including a variety of auto- and allopolyploid genomic combinations. All were either the same age or younger than the crown group comprising their maternal sexual-diploid parents based simply on their phylogenetic position. Node ages estimated with the relaxed-clock approach indicated that the average maximum age of asexual lineages was 0.4 My, and individual lineages were on average 7 to 47 times younger than the crown- and total-ages of their sexual parents. Although the confounding association between asexuality and polyploidy precludes definite conclusions regarding the effect of asexuality, our results suggest that asexuality limits evolutionary potential in Astrolepis.
Most of the publicly available data on chloroplast (plastid) genes and genomes come from seed plants, with relatively little information from their sister group, the ferns. Here we describe several broad evolutionary patterns and processes in fern plastid genomes (plastomes), and we include some new plastome sequence data. We review what we know about the evolutionary history of plastome structure across the fern phylogeny and we compare plastome organization and patterns of evolution in ferns to those in seed plants. A large clade of ferns is characterized by a plastome that has been reorganized with respect to the ancestral gene order (a similar order that is ancestral in seed plants). We review the sequence of inversions that gave rise to this organization. We also explore global nucleotide substitution patterns in ferns versus those found in seed plants across plastid genes, and we review the high levels of RNA editing observed in fern plastomes.
Convergent evolution driven by adaptation to arid habitats has made it difficult to identify monophyletic taxa in the cheilanthoid ferns. Dependence on distinctive, but potentially homoplastic characters, to define major clades has resulted in a taxonomic conundrum: all of the largest cheilanthoid genera have been shown to be polyphyletic. Here we reconstruct the first comprehensive phylogeny of the strictly New World cheilanthoid genus Argyrochosma. We use our reconstruction to examine the evolution of farina (powdery leaf deposits), which has played a prominent role in the circumscription of cheilanthoid genera. Our data indicate that Argyrochosma comprises two major monophyletic groups: one exclusively non-farinose and the other primarily farinose. Within the latter group, there has been at least one evolutionary reversal (loss) of farina and the development of major chemical variants that characterize specific clades. Our phylogenetic hypothesis, in combination with spore data and chromosome counts, also provides a critical context for addressing the prevalence of polyploidy and apomixis within the genus. Evidence from these datasets provides testable hypotheses regarding reticulate evolution and suggests the presence of several previously undetected taxa of Argyrochosma. © 2011 by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.
BACKGROUND: DNA barcoding will revolutionize our understanding of fern ecology, most especially because the accurate identification of the independent but cryptic gametophyte phase of the fern's life history--an endeavor previously impossible--will finally be feasible. In this study, we assess the discriminatory power of the core plant DNA barcode (rbcL and matK), as well as alternatively proposed fern barcodes (trnH-psbA and trnL-F), across all major fern lineages. We also present plastid barcode data for two genera in the hyperdiverse polypod clade--Deparia (Woodsiaceae) and the Cheilanthes marginata group (currently being segregated as a new genus of Pteridaceae)--to further evaluate the resolving power of these loci. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Our results clearly demonstrate the value of matK data, previously unavailable in ferns because of difficulties in amplification due to a major rearrangement of the plastid genome. With its high sequence variation, matK complements rbcL to provide a two-locus barcode with strong resolving power. With sequence variation comparable to matK, trnL-F appears to be a suitable alternative barcode region in ferns, and perhaps should be added to the core barcode region if universal primer development for matK fails. In contrast, trnH-psbA shows dramatically reduced sequence variation for the majority of ferns. This is likely due to the translocation of this segment of the plastid genome into the inverted repeat regions, which are known to have a highly constrained substitution rate. CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides the first endorsement of the two-locus barcode (rbcL+matK) in ferns, and favors trnL-F over trnH-psbA as a potential back-up locus. Future work should focus on gathering more fern matK sequence data to facilitate universal primer development.
Using cheilanthoid ferns, we provide an example of how DNA barcoding approaches can be useful to the horticultural community for keeping plants in the trade accurately identified. We use plastid rbcL, atpA, and trnG-R sequence data to demonstrate that a fern marketed as Cheilanthes wrightii (endemic to the southwestern USA and northern Mexico) in the horticultural trade is, in fact, Cheilanthes distans (endemic to Australia and adjacent islands). Public and private (accessible with permission) databases contain a wealth of DNA sequence data that are linked to vouchered plant material. These data have uses beyond those for which they were originally generated, and they provide an important resource for fostering collaborations between the academic and horticultural communities. We strongly advocate the barcoding approach as a valuable new technology available to the horticulture industry to help correct plant identification errors in the international trade.
Molecular rate heterogeneity, whereby rates of molecular evolution vary among groups of organisms, is a well-documented phenomenon. Nonetheless, its causes are poorly understood. For animals, generation time is frequently cited because longer-lived species tend to have slower rates of molecular evolution than their shorter-lived counterparts. Although a similar pattern has been uncovered in flowering plants, using proxies such as growth form, the underlying process has remained elusive. Here, we find a deceleration of molecular evolutionary rate to be coupled with the origin of arborescence in ferns. Phylogenetic branch lengths within the “tree fern” clade are considerably shorter than those of closely related lineages, and our analyses demonstrate that this is due to a significant difference in molecular evolutionary rate. Reconstructions reveal that an abrupt rate deceleration coincided with the evolution of the long-lived tree-like habit at the base of the tree fern clade. This suggests that a generation time effect may well be ubiquitous across the green tree of life, and that the search for a responsible mechanism must focus on characteristics shared by all vascular plants. Discriminating among the possibilities will require contributions from various biological disciplines,but will be necessary for a full appreciation of molecular evolution.
Polyploidy presents a challenge to those wishing to delimit the species within a group and reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships among these taxa. A clear understanding of the tree-like relationships among the diploid species can provide a framework upon which to reconstruct the reticulate events that gave rise to the polyploid lineages. In this study we apply this "diploids-first" strategy to the fern genus Astrolepis (Pteridaceae). Diploids are identified using the number of spores per sporangium and spore size. Analyses of plastid and low-copy nuclear sequence data provide well-supported estimates of phylogenetic relationships, including strong evidence for two morphologically distinctive diploid lineages not recognized in recent treatments. One of these corresponds to the type of Notholaena deltoidea, a species that has not been recognized in any modern treatment of Astrolepis. This species is resurrected here as the new combination Astrolepis deltoidea . The second novel lineage is that of a diploid initially hypothesized to exist by molecular and morphological characteristics of several established Astrolepis allopolyploids. This previously missing diploid species is described here as Astrolepis obscura. © Copyright 2010 by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.
Deciphering species relationships and hybrid origins in polyploid agamic species complexes is notoriously difficult. In this study of cheilanthoid ferns, we demonstrate increased resolving power for clarifying the origins of polyploid lineages by integrating evidence from a diverse selection of biosystematic methods. The prevalence of polyploidy, hybridization, and apomixis in ferns suggests that these processes play a significant role in their evolution and diversification. Using a combination of systematic approaches, we investigated the origins of apomictic polyploids belonging to the Cheilanthes yavapensis complex. Spore studies allowed us to assess ploidy levels; plastid and nuclear DNA sequencing revealed evolutionary relationships and confirmed the putative progenitors (both maternal and paternal) of taxa of hybrid origin; enzyme electrophoretic evidence provided information on genome dosage in allopolyploids. We find here that the widespread apomictic triploid, Cheilanthes lindheimeri, is an autopolyploid derived from a rare, previously undetected sexual diploid. The apomictic triploid Cheilanthes wootonii is shown to be an interspecific hybrid between C. fendleri and C. lindheimeri, whereas the apomictic tetraploid C. yavapensis is comprised of two cryptic and geographically distinct lineages. We show that earlier morphology-based hypotheses of species relationships, while not altogether incorrect, only partially explain the complicated evolutionary history of these ferns.
In today's angiosperm-dominated terrestrial ecosystems, leptosporangiate ferns are truly exceptional--accounting for 80% of the approximately 11,000 nonflowering vascular plant species. Recent studies have shown that this remarkable diversity is mostly the result of a major leptosporangiate radiation beginning in the Cretaceous, following the rise of angiosperms. This pattern is suggestive of an ecological opportunistic response, with the proliferation of flowering plants across the landscape resulting in the formation of many new niches--both on forest floors and within forest canopies--into which leptosporangiate ferns could diversify. At present, one-third of leptosporangiate species grow as epiphytes in the canopies of angiosperm-dominated tropical rain forests. However, we know too little about the evolutionary history of epiphytic ferns to assess whether or not their diversification was in fact linked to the establishment of these forests, as would be predicted by the ecological opportunistic response hypothesis. Here we provide new insight into leptosporangiate diversification and the evolution of epiphytism by integrating a 400-taxon molecular dataset with an expanded set of fossil age constraints. We find evidence for a burst of fern diversification in the Cenozoic, apparently driven by the evolution of epiphytism. Whether this explosive radiation was triggered simply by the establishment of modern angiosperm-dominated tropical rain forest canopies, or spurred on by some other large-scale extrinsic factor (e.g., climate change) remains to be determined. In either case, it is clear that in both the Cretaceous and Cenozoic, leptosporangiate ferns were adept at exploiting newly created niches in angiosperm-dominated ecosystems.
Using an explicit phylogenetic framework, ontogenetic patterns of leaf form are compared among the three genera of marsileaceous ferns (Marsilea, Regnellidium, and Pilularia) with the outgroup Asplenium to address the hypothesis that heterochrony played a role in their evolution. We performed a Fourier analysis on a developmental sequence of leaves from individuals of these genera. Principal components analysis of the harmonic coefficients was used to characterize the ontogenetic trajectories of leaf form in a smaller dimensional space. Results of this study suggest that the "evolutionary juvenilization" observed in these leaf sequences is best described using a mixed model of heterochrony (accelerated growth rate and early termination at a simplified leaf form). The later stages of the ancestral, more complex, ontogenetic pattern were lost in Marsileaceae, giving rise to the simplified adult leaves of Marsilea, Regnellidium, and Pilularia. Life-history traits such as ephemeral and uncertain habitats, high reproductive rates, and accelerated maturation, which are typical for marsileaceous ferns, suggest that they may be "r strategists." The evidence for heterochrony presented here illustrates that it has resulted in profound ecological and morphological consequences for the entire life history of Marsileaceae.
Using a morphological dataset of 136 vegetative and reproductive characters, we infer the tracheophyte phylogeny with an emphasis on early divergences of ferns (monilophytes). The dataset comprises morphological, anatomical, biochemical, and some DNA structural characters for a taxon sample of 35 species, including representatives of all major lineages of vascular plants, especially ferns. Phylogenetic relationships among vascular plants are reconstructed using maximum parsimony and Bayesian inference. Both approaches yield similar relationships and provide evidence for three major lineages of extant vascular plants: lycophytes, ferns, and seed plants. Lycophytes are sister to the euphyllophyte clade, which comprises the fern and seed plant lineages. The fern lineage consists of five clades: horsetails, whisk ferns, ophioglossoids, marattioids, and leptosporangiate ferns. This lineage is supported by characters of the spore wall and has a parsimony bootstrap value of 76%, although the Bayesian posterior probability is only 0.53. Each of the five fern clades is well supported, but the relationships among them lack statistical support. Our independent phylogenetic analyses of morphological evidence recover the same deep phylogenetic relationships among tracheophytes as found in previous studies utilizing DNA sequence data, but differ in some ways within seed plants and within ferns. We discuss the extensive independent evolution of the five extant fern clades and the evidence for the placement of whisk ferns and horsetails in our morphological analyses. © 2009 by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.
Genera within the eusporangiate fern family Marattiaceae have long been neglected in taxonomic and systematic studies. Here we present the first phylogenetic hypothesis of relationships within the exclusively Neotropical genus Danaea based on a sampling of 60 specimens representing 31 species from various Neotropical sites. We used DNA sequence data from three plastid regions (atpB, rbcL, and trnL-F), morphological characters from both herbarium specimens and live plants observed in the field, and geographical and ecological information to examine evolutionary patterns. Eleven representatives of five other marattioid genera (Angiopteris, Archangiopteris, Christensenia, Macroglossum, and Marattia) were used to root the topology. We identified three well-supported clades within Danaea that are consistent with morphological characters: the "leprieurii" clade (containing species traditionally associated with the name D. elliptica), the "nodosa" clade (containing all species traditionally associated with the name D. nodosa), and the "alata" clade (containing all other species). All three clades are geographically and ecologically widely distributed, but subclades within them show various distribution patterns. Our phylogenetic hypothesis provides a robust framework within which broad questions related to the morphology, taxonomy, biogeography, evolution, and ecology of these ferns can be addressed.
Heterosporous ferns (Salviniales) are a group of approximately 70 species that produce two types of spores (megaspores and microspores). Earlier broad-scale phylogenetic studies on the order typically focused on one or, at most, two species per genus. In contrast, our study samples numerous species for each genus, wherever possible, accounting for almost half of the species diversity of the order. Our analyses resolve Marsileaceae, Salviniaceae and all of the component genera as monophyletic. Salviniaceae incorporate Salvinia and Azolla; in Marsileaceae, Marsilea is sister to the clade of Regnellidium and Pilularia - this latter clade is consistently resolved, but not always strongly supported. Our individual species-level investigations for Pilularia and Salvinia, together with previously published studies on Marsilea and Azolla (Regnellidium is monotypic), provide phylogenies within all genera of heterosporous ferns. The Pilularia phylogeny reveals two groups: Group I includes the European taxa P. globulifera and P. minuta; Group II consists of P. americana, P. novae-hollandiae and P. novae-zelandiae from North America, Australia and New Zealand, respectively, and are morphologically difficult to distinguish. Based on their identical molecular sequences and morphology, we regard P. novae-hollandiae and P. novae-zelandiae to be conspecific; the name P. novae-hollandiae has nomenclatural priority. The status of P. americana requires further investigation as it consists of two geographically and genetically distinct North American groups and also shows a high degree of sequence similarity to P. novae-hollandiae. Salvinia also comprises biogeographically distinct units - a Eurasian group (S. natans and S. cucullata) and an American clade that includes the noxious weed S. molesta, as well as S. oblongifolia and S. minima. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London.
To resolve phylogenetic relationships among all genera and subgenera in Osmundaceae, we analyzed over 8,500 characters of DNA sequence data from seven plastid loci (atpA, rbcL, rbcL-accD, rbcL-atpB, rps4-trnS, trnG-trnR, and trnL-trnF). Our results confirm those from earlier anatomical and single-gene (rbcL) studies that suggested Osmunda s.l. is paraphyletic. Osmunda cinnamomea is sister to the remainder of Osmundaceae (Leptopteris, Todea, and Osmunda s.s.). We support the recognition of a monotypic fourth genus, Osmundastrum, to reflect these results. We also resolve subgeneric relationships within Osmunda s.s. and find that subg. Claytosmunda is strongly supported as sister to the rest of Osmunda. A stable, well-supported classification for extant Osmundaceae is proposed, along with a key to all genera and subgenera. © Copyright 2008 by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.
Cheilanthoid ferns (Pteridaceae) are a diverse and ecologically important clade, unusual among ferns for their ability to colonize and diversify within xeric habitats. These extreme habitats are thought to drive the extensive evolutionary convergence, and thus morphological homoplasy, that has long thwarted a natural classification of cheilanthoid ferns. Here we present the first multigene phylogeny to focus on taxa traditionally assigned to the large genus Notholaena. New World taxa (Notholaena sensu Tryon) are only distantly related to species occurring in the Old World (Notholaena sensu Pichi Sermolli). The circumscription of Notholaena adopted in recent American floras is shown to be paraphyletic, with species usually assigned to Cheilanthes and Cheiloplecton nested within it. The position of Cheiloplecton is particularly surprising - given its well-developed false indusium and non-farinose blade, it is morphologically anomalous within the "notholaenoids". In addition to clarifying natural relationships, the phylogenetic hypothesis presented here helps to resolve outstanding nomenclatural issues and provides a basis for examining character evolution within this diverse, desert-adapted clade.
Although polyploidy is rampant in ferns and plays a major role in shaping their diversity, the evolutionary history of many polyploid species remains poorly understood. Nuclear DNA sequences can provide valuable information for identifying polyploid origins; however, remarkably few nuclear markers have been developed specifically for ferns, and previously published primer sets do not work well in many fern lineages. In this study, we present new primer sequences for the amplification of a portion of the nuclear gapCp gene (encoding a glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase). Through a broad survey across ferns, we demonstrate that these primers are nearly universal for this clade. With a case study in cheilanthoids, we show that this rapidly evolving marker is a powerful tool for discriminating between autopolyploids and allopolyploids. Our results indicate that gapCp holds considerable potential for addressing species-level questions across the fern tree of life. © Copyright 2008 by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.
Although the phylogeny of the filmy fern family (Hymenophyllaceae) is rapidly coming into focus, much remains to be uncovered concerning the evolutionary history of this clade. In this study, we use two data sets (108-taxon rbcL+ rps4, 204-taxon rbcL) and fossil constraints to examine the diversification of filmy ferns and the evolution of their ecology within a temporal context. Our penalized likelihood analyses (with both data sets) indicate that the initial divergences within the Hymenophyllaceae (resulting in extant lineages) and those within one of the two major clades (trichomanoids) occurred in the early to middle Mesozoic. There was a considerable delay in the crown group diversification of the other major clade (hymenophylloids), which began to diversify only in the Cretaceous. Maximum likelihood and Bayesian character state reconstructions across the broadly sampled single-gene (rbcL) phylogeny do not allow us to unequivocally infer the ancestral habit for the family or for its two major clades. However, adding a second gene (rps4) with a more restricted taxon sampling results in a hypothesis in which filmy ferns were ancestrally terrestrial, with epiphytism having evolved several times independently during the Cretaceous. © 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
The monophyletic Pteridaceae accounts for roughly 10% of extant fern diversity and occupies an unusually broad range of ecological niches, including terrestrial, epiphytic, xeric-adapted rupestral, and even aquatic species. In this study, we present the results of the first broad-scale and multi-gene phylogenetic analyses of these ferns, and determine the affinities of several previously unsampled genera. Our analyses of two newly assembled data sets (including 169 newly obtained sequences) resolve five major clades within the Pteridaceae: cryptogrammoids, ceratopteridoids, pteridoids, adiantoids, and cheilanthoids. Although the composition of these clades is in general agreement with earlier phylogenetic studies, it is very much at odds with the most recent subfamilial classification. Of the previously unsampled genera, two (Neurocallis and Ochropteris) are nested within the genus Pteris; two others (Monogramma and Rheopteris) are early diverging vittarioid ferns, with Monogramma resolved as polyphyletic; the last previously unsampled genus (Adiantopsis) occupies a rather derived position among cheilanthoids. Interestingly, some clades resolved within the Pteridaceae can be characterized by their ecological preferences, suggesting that the initial diversification in this family was tied to ecological innovation and specialization. These processes may well be the basis for the diversity and success of the Pteridaceae today.
Tree ferns recently were identified as the closest sister group to the hyperdiverse clade of ferns, the polypods. Although most of the 600 species of tree ferns are arborescent, the group encompasses a wide range of morphological variability, from diminutive members to the giant scaly tree ferns, Cyatheaceae. This well-known family comprises most of the tree fern diversity (∼500 species) and is widespread in tropical, subtropical, and south temperate regions of the world. Here we investigate the phylogenetic relationships of scaly tree ferns based on DNA sequence data from five plastid regions (rbcL, rbcL-accD IGS, rbcL-atpB IGS, trnG-trnR, and trnL-trnF). A basal dichotomy resolves Sphaeropteris as sister to all other taxa and scale features support these two clades: Sphaeropteris has conform scales, whereas all other taxa have marginate scales. The marginate-scaled clade consists of a basal trichotomy, with the three groups here termed (1) Cyathea (including Cnemidaria, Hymenophyllopsis, Trichipteris), (2) Alsophila sensu stricto, and (3) Gymnosphaera (previously recognized as a section within Alsophila) + A. capensis. Scaly tree ferns display a wide range of indusial structures, and although indusium shape is homoplastic it does contain useful phylogenetic information that supports some of the larger clades recognised.
Using six plastid regions, we present a phylogeny for 26 species of the heterosporous fern genus Marsilea. Two well-supported groups within Marsilea are identified. Group I includes two subgroups, and is relatively species-poor. Species assignable to this group have glabrous leaves (although land leaves may have a few hairs), sporocarps lacking both a raphe and teeth, and share a preference for submerged conditions (i.e., they are intolerant of desiccation). Group II is relatively diverse, and its members have leaves that are pubescent, sporocarps that bear a raphe and from zero to two teeth, and the plants are often emergent at the edges of lakes and ponds. Within Group II, five subgroups receive robust support: three are predominantly African, one is New World, and one Old World. Phylogenetic assessment of morphological evolution suggests that the presence of an inferior sporocarp tooth and the place of sporocarp maturation are homoplastic characters, and are therefore of unreliable taxonomic use at an infrageneric level. In contrast, the presence of a raphe and superior sporocarp tooth are reliable synapomorphies for classification within Marsilea. © Copyright 2007 by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.
BACKGROUND: Group I introns are one of the four major classes of introns as defined by their distinct splicing mechanisms. Because they catalyze their own removal from precursor transcripts, group I introns are referred to as autocatalytic introns. Group I introns are common in fungal and protist nuclear ribosomal RNA genes and in organellar genomes. In contrast, they are rare in all other organisms and genomes, including bacteria. RESULTS: Here we report five group I introns, each containing a LAGLIDADG homing endonuclease gene (HEG), in large subunit (LSU) rRNA genes of cyanobacteria. Three of the introns are located in the LSU gene of Synechococcus sp. C9, and the other two are in the LSU gene of Synechococcus lividus strain C1. Phylogenetic analyses show that these introns and their HEGs are closely related to introns and HEGs located at homologous insertion sites in organellar and bacterial rDNA genes. We also present a compilation of group I introns with homing endonuclease genes in bacteria. CONCLUSION: We have discovered multiple HEG-containing group I introns in a single bacterial gene. To our knowledge, these are the first cases of multiple group I introns in the same bacterial gene (multiple group I introns have been reported in at least one phage gene and one prophage gene). The HEGs each contain one copy of the LAGLIDADG motif and presumably function as homodimers. Phylogenetic analysis, in conjunction with their patchy taxonomic distribution, suggests that these intron-HEG elements have been transferred horizontally among organelles and bacteria. However, the mode of transfer and the nature of the biological connections among the intron-containing organisms are unknown.
A phylogeny for all extant species of the heterosporous fern genus Azolla is presented here based on more than 5000 base pairs of DNA sequence data from six plastid loci (rbcL, atpB, rps4, trnL-trnF, trnG-trnR, and rps4-trnS). Our results are in agreement with other recent molecular phylogenetic hypotheses that support the monophyly of sections Azolla and Rhizosperma and the proposed relationships within section Azolla. Divergence times are estimated within Azolla using a penalized likelihood approach, integrating data from fossils and DNA sequences. Penalized likelihood analyses estimate a divergence time of 50.7 Ma (Eocene) for the split between sections Azolla and Rhizosperma, 32.5 Ma (Oligocene) for the divergence of Azolla nilotica from A. pinnata within section Rhizosperma, and 16.3 Ma (Miocene) for the divergence of the two lineages within section Azolla (the A. filiculoides + A. rubra lineage from the A. caroliniana + A. microphylla + A. mexicana complex). © 2007 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
In an effort to obtain a solid and balanced approximation of global fern phylogeny to serve as a tool for addressing large-scale evolutionary questions, we assembled and analyzed the most inclusive molecular dataset for leptosporangiate ferns to date. Three plastid genes (rbcL, atpB, atpA), totaling more than 4,000 bp, were sequenced for each of 400 leptosporangiate fern species (selected using a proportional sampling approach) and five outgroups. Maximum likelihood analysis of these data yielded an especially robust phylogeny: 80% of the nodes were supported by a maximum likelihood bootstrap percentage ≥ 70. The scope of our analysis provides unprecedented insight into overall fern relationships, not only delivering additional support for the deepest leptosporangiate divergences, but also uncovering the composition of more recently emerging clades and their relationships to one another.
The rate of molecular evolution is not constant across the Tree of Life. Characterizing rate discrepancies and evaluating the relative roles of time and rate along branches through the past are both critical to a full understanding of evolutionary history. In this study, we explore the interactions of time and rate in filmy ferns (Hymenophyllaceae), a lineage with extreme branch length differences between the two major clades. We test for the presence of significant rate discrepancies within and between these clades, and we separate time and rate across the filmy fern phylogeny to simultaneously yield an evolutionary time scale of filmy fern diversification and reconstructions of ancestral rates of molecular evolution. Our results indicate that the branch length disparity observed between the major lineages of filmy ferns is indeed due to a significant difference in molecular evolutionary rate. The estimation of divergence times reveals that the timing of crown group diversification was not concurrent for the two lineages, and the reconstruction of ancestral rates of molecular evolution points to a substantial rate deceleration in one of the clades. Further analysis suggests that this may be due to a genome-wide deceleration in the rate of nucleotide substitution.
Tree ferns are a well-established clade within leptosporangiate ferns. Most of the 600 species (in seven families and 13 genera) are arborescent, but considerable morphological variability exists, spanning the giant scaly tree ferns (Cyatheaceae), the low, erect plants (Plagiogyriaceae), and the diminutive endemics of the Guayana Highlands (Hymenophyllopsidaceae). In this study, we investigate phylogenetic relationships within tree ferns based on analyses of four protein-coding, plastid loci (atpA, atpB, rbcL, and rps4). Our results reveal four well-supported clades, with genera of Dicksoniaceae (sensu ) interspersed among them: (A) (Loxomataceae, (Culcita, Plagiogyriaceae)), (B) (Calochlaena, (Dicksonia, Lophosoriaceae)), (C) Cibotium, and (D) Cyatheaceae, with Hymenophyllopsidaceae nested within. How these four groups are related to one other, to Thyrsopteris, or to Metaxyaceae is weakly supported. Our results show that Dicksoniaceae and Cyatheaceae, as currently recognised, are not monophyletic and new circumscriptions for these families are needed.
The phylogenetic position of Cystodium J. Sm. is studied here for the first time using DNA sequence data. Based on a broad sampling of leptosporangiate ferns and two plastid genes (rbcL and atpB), we show that Cystodium does not belong to the tree fern family Dicksoniaceae, as previously thought. Our results strongly support including Cystodium within the large polypod clade, and suggest its close relationship to the species-poor grade taxa at the base of the polypod topology (Sphenomeris and Lonchitis, or Saccoloma in this study). Further studies, with an expanded taxon sampling within polypods, are needed to fully understand the more precise phylogenetic relationships of Cystodium.
Heterosporous water ferns (Marsileaceae and Salviniaceae) are the only extant group of plants to have evolved heterospory since the Paleozoic. These ferns possess unusual reproductive structures traditionally termed "sporocarps." Using an evolutionary framework, we critically examine the complex homology issues pertaining to these structures. Comparative morphological study reveals that all heterosporous ferns bear indusiate sori on a branched, nonlaminate structure that we refer to as the sorophore; this expanded definition highlights homology previously obscured by the use of different terms. By using a homology-based concept, we aim to discontinue the use of historically and functionally based morphological terminology. We recognize the sorophore envelope as a structure that surrounds the sorophore and sori. The sorophore envelope is present in Marsileaceae as a sclerenchymatous sporocarp wall and in Azolla as a parenchymatous layer, but it is absent in Salvinia. Both homology assessments and phylogenetic character-state reconstructions using the Cretaceous fossil Hydropteris are consistent with a single origin of the sorophore envelope in heterosporous ferns. Consequently, we restrict the term "sporocarp" to a sorophore envelope and all it contains. Traditional usage of "sporocarp" is misleading because it implies homology for nonhomologous structures, and structures historically called sporocarps in Salviniaceae are more appropriately referred to as sori. © 2006 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
We present a revised classification for extant ferns, with emphasis on ordinal and familial ranks, and a synopsis of included genera. Our classification reflects recently published phylogenetic hypotheses based on both morphological and molecular data. Within our new classification, we recognize four monophyletic classes, 11 monophyletic orders, and 37 families, 32 of which are strongly supported as monophyletic. One new family, Cibotiaceae Korall, is described. The phylogenetic affinities of a few genera in the order Polypodiales are unclear and their familial placements are therefore tentative. Alphabetical lists of accepted genera (including common synonyms), families, orders, and taxa of higher rank are provided.
DNA sequence data and phylogenetic approaches have contributed greatly to our understanding of fern relationships. Nonetheless, the datasets analyzed to date have not been sufficient to definitively resolve all parts of the global fern phylogeny; additional data and more extensive sampling are necessary. Here, we explore the phylogenetic utility of the plastid atpA gene. Using newly designed primers, we obtained atpA sequences for 52 fern and 6 outgroup taxa, and then evaluated the capabilities of atpA relative to four other molecular markers, as well as the contributions of atpA in combined analyses. The five single-gene datasets differed markedly in the number of variable characters they possessed; and although the relationships resolved in analyses of these datasets were largely congruent, the robustness of the hypotheses varied considerably. The atpA dataset had more variable characters and resulted in a more robustly supported phylogeny than any of the other single gene datasets examined, suggesting that atpA will be exceptionally useful in more extensive studies of fern phylogeny and perhaps also in studies of other plant lineages. When the atpA data were analyzed in combination with the other four markers, an especially robust hypothesis of fern relationships emerged. With the addition of the atpA data, support increased substantially at several nodes; three nodes, which were not well-supported previously, received both good posterior probability and good bootstrap support in the combined 5-gene (> 6 kb) analyses.
Using DNA sequence data from multiple genes (often from more than one genome compartment) to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships has become routine. Augmenting this approach with genomic structural characters (e.g., intron gain and loss, changes in gene order) as these data become available from comparative studies already has provided critical insight into some long-standing questions about the evolution of land plants. Here we report on the presence of a group II intron located in the mitochondrial atp1 gene of leptosporangiate and marattioid ferns. Primary sequence data for the atp1 gene are newly reported for 27 taxa, and results are presented from maximum likelihood-based phylogenetic analyses using Bayesian inference for 34 land plants in three data sets: (1) single-gene mitochondrial atp1 (exon+intron sequences); (2) five combined genes (mitochondrial atp1 [exon only]; plastid rbcL, atpB, rps4; nuclear SSU rDNA); and (3) same five combined genes plus morphology. All our phylogenetic analyses corroborate results from previous fern studies that used plastid and nuclear sequence data: the monophyly of euphyllophytes, as well as of monilophytes; whisk ferns (Psilotidae) sister to ophioglossoid ferns (Ophioglossidae); horsetails (Equisetopsida) sister to marattioid ferns (Marattiidae), which together are sister to the monophyletic leptosporangiate ferns. In contrast to the results from the primary sequence data, the genomic structural data (atp1 intron distribution pattern) would seem to suggest that leptosporangiate and marattioid ferns are monophyletic, and together they are the sister group to horsetails--a topology that is rarely reconstructed using primary sequence data.
The phylogenetic structure of ferns (= monilophytes) is explored here, with a special focus on the early divergences among leptosporangiate lineages. Despite considerable progress in our understanding of fern relationships, a rigorous and comprehensive analysis of the early leptosporangiate divergences was lacking. Therefore, a data set was designed here to include critical taxa that were not included in earlier studies. More than 5000 bp from the plastid (rbcL, atpB, rps4) and the nuclear (18S rDNA) genomes were sequenced for 62 taxa. Phylogenetic analyses of these data (1) confirm that Osmundaceae are sister to the rest of the leptosporangiates, (2) resolve a diverse set of ferns formerly thought to be a subsequent grade as possibly monophyletic (((Dipteridaceae, Matoniaceae), Gleicheniaceae), Hymenophyllaceae), and (3) place schizaeoid ferns as sister to a large clade of "core leptosporangiates" that includes heterosporous ferns, tree ferns, and polypods. Divergence time estimates for ferns are reported from penalized likelihood analyses of our molecular data, with constraints from a reassessment of the fossil record.
The rise of angiosperms during the Cretaceous period is often portrayed as coincident with a dramatic drop in the diversity and abundance of many seed-free vascular plant lineages, including ferns. This has led to the widespread belief that ferns, once a principal component of terrestrial ecosystems, succumbed to the ecological predominance of angiosperms and are mostly evolutionary holdovers from the late Palaeozoic/early Mesozoic era. The first appearance of many modern fern genera in the early Tertiary fossil record implies another evolutionary scenario; that is, that the majority of living ferns resulted from a more recent diversification. But a full understanding of trends in fern diversification and evolution using only palaeobotanical evidence is hindered by the poor taxonomic resolution of the fern fossil record in the Cretaceous. Here we report divergence time estimates for ferns and angiosperms based on molecular data, with constraints from a reassessment of the fossil record. We show that polypod ferns (> 80% of living fern species) diversified in the Cretaceous, after angiosperms, suggesting perhaps an ecological opportunistic response to the diversification of angiosperms, as angiosperms came to dominate terrestrial ecosystems.
Equisetum is a small and morphologically distinct genus with a rich fossil record. Two subgenera have been recognized based principally on stomatal position and stem branching: subg. Equisetum (eight species; superficial stomates; stems branched) and subg. Hippochaete (seven species; sunken stomates; stems generally unbranched). Prior attempts at understanding Equisetum systematics, phylogeny, and character evolution have been hampered by the high degree of morphological plasticity in the genus as well as by frequent hybridization among members within each subgenus. We present the first explicit phylogenetic study of Equisetum, including all 15 species and two samples of one widespread hybrid, Equisetum x ferrissii, based on a combined analysis of two chloroplast markers, rbcL and trnL-F. Our robustly supported phylogeny identifies two monophyletic clades corresponding to the two subgenera recognized by earlier workers. The phylogenetic placement of Equisetum bogotense, however, is ambiguous. In maximum likelihood analyses, it allies with subg. Hippochaete as the most basal member, while maximum parsimony places it as sister to the rest of the genus. A consensus phylogeny from the two analyses is presented as a basal trichotomy (E. bogotense, subg. Hippochaete, subg. Equisetum), and morphological character evolution is discussed. We detected rate heterogeneity in the rbcL locus between the two subgenera that can be attributed to an increased rate of nucleotide substitution (transversions) in subg. Hippochaete. We calculated molecular-based age estimates using the penalized likelihood approach, which accounts for rate heterogeneity and does not assume a molecular clock. The Equisetum crown group appears to have diversified in the early Cenozoic, whereas the Equisetaceae total group is estimated to have a Paleozoic origin. These molecular-based age estimates are in remarkable agreement with current interpretations of the fossil record.
In order to estimate evolutionary relationships within the filmy fern genus Trichomanes (Hymenophyllaceae), we performed a phylogenetic analysis using rbcL nucleotide data from 46 species of Trichomanes belonging to all four of C. V. Morton's subgenera: Achomanes, Didymoglossum, Pachychaetum, and Trichomanes. Outgroups included four species of Hymenophyllum in three different subgenera, plus the monotypic genus Cardiomanes, from New Zealand. We find high resolution and robust support at most nodes, regardless of the phylogenetic optimization criterion used (maximum parsimony or maximum likelihood). Two species belonging to Morton's Asiatic sections Callistopteris and Cephalomanes are in unresolved basal positions within Trichomanes s.l., suggesting that rbcL data alone are inadequate for estimating the earliest cladogenetic events. Out of the four Morton trichomanoid subgenera, only subg. Didymoglossum appears monophyletic. Other noteworthy results include the following: (1) lianescent sect. Lacostea is more closely related to sect. Davalliopsis (traditionally placed in subg. Pachychaetum) than to other members of subg. Achomanes; (2) sections Davalliopsis and Lacostea, together with species of the morphologically different subg. Achomanes, make up a strongly supported Neotropical clade; (3) all hemiepiphytes (but not true lianas) and strictly epiphytic or epipetric species (Morton's subgenera Trichomanes and Didymoglossum) group together in an ecologically definable clade that also includes the terrestrial sect. Nesopteris; and (4) sect. Lacosteopsis (sensu Morton) is polyphyletic and comprises two distantly related clades: large hemiepiphytic climbers and small strictly epiphytic/epipetric taxa. Each of these associations is somewhat unexpected but is supported by cytological, geographical, and/or ecological evidence. We conclude that many morphological characters traditionally used for delimiting groups within Trichomanes are, in part, plesiomorphic or homoplastic. Additionally, we discuss probable multiple origins of Neotropical Trichomanes.
Recent comparative DNA-sequencing studies of chloroplast, mitochondrial and ribosomal genes have produced an evolutionary tree relating the diversity of green-plant lineages. By coupling this phylogenetic framework to the explosion of information on genome content, plant-genomic efforts can and should be extended beyond angiosperm crop and model systems. Including plant species representative of other crucial evolutionary nodes would produce the comparative information necessary to understand fully the organization, function and evolution of plant genomes. The simultaneous development of genomic tools for green algae, bryophytes, 'seed-free' vascular plants and gymnosperms should provide insights into the bases of the complex morphological, physiological, reproductive and biochemical innovations that have characterized the successful transition of green plants to land.
Spores of the aquatic heterosporous fern family Marsileaceae differ markedly from spores of Salviniaceae, the only other family of heterosporous ferns and sister group to Marsileaceae, and from spores of all homosporous ferns. The marsileaceous outer spore wall (perine) is modified above the aperture into a structure, the acrolamella, and the perine and acrolamella are further modified into a remarkable gelatinous layer that envelops the spore. Observations with light and scanning electron microscopy indicate that the three living marsileaceous fern genera (Marsilea, Pilularia, and Regnellidium) each have distinctive spores, particularly with regard to the perine and acrolamella. Several spore characters support a division of Marsilea into two groups. Spore character evolution is discussed in the context of developmental and possible functional aspects. The gelatinous perine layer acts as a flexible, floating organ that envelops the spores only for a short time and appears to be an adaptation of marsileaceous ferns to amphibious habitats. The gelatinous nature of the perine layer is likely the result of acidic polysaccharide components in the spore wall that have hydrogel (swelling and shrinking) properties. Megaspores floating at the water/air interface form a concave meniscus, at the center of which is the gelatinous acrolamella that encloses a "sperm lake". This meniscus creates a vortex-like effect that serves as a trap for free-swimming sperm cells, propelling them into the sperm lake.
The "filmy fern" family, Hymenophyllaceae, is traditionally partitioned into two principal genera, Trichomanes s.l. (sensu lato) and Hymenophyllum s.l., based upon sorus shape characters. This basic split in the family has been widely debated this past century and hence was evaluated here by using rbcL nucleotide sequence data in a phylogenetic study of 26 filmy ferns and nine outgroup taxa. Our results confirm the monophyly of the family and provide robust support for two monophyletic groups that correspond to the two classical genera. In addition, we show that some taxa of uncertain affinity, such as the monotypic genera Cardiomanes and Serpyllopsis, and at least one species of Microtrichomanes, are convincingly included within Hymenophyllum s.l. The tubular- or conical-based sorus that typifies Trichomanes s.l. and Cardiomanes, the most basal member of Hymenophyllum s.l., is a plesiomorphic character state for the family. Tubular-based sori occurring in other members of Hymenophyllum s.l. are most likely derived independently and more than one time. While rbcL data are able to provide a well-supported phylogenetic estimate within Trichomanes s.l., they are inadequate for resolving relationships within Hymenophyllum s.l., which will require data from additional sources. This disparity in resolution reflects differential rates of evolution for rbcL within Hymenophyllaceae.
Most of the 470-million-year history of plants on land belongs to bryophytes, pteridophytes and gymnosperms, which eventually yielded to the ecological dominance by angiosperms 90 Myr ago. Our knowledge of angiosperm phylogeny, particularly the branching order of the earliest lineages, has recently been increased by the concurrence of multigene sequence analyses. However, reconstructing relationships for all the main lineages of vascular plants that diverged since the Devonian period has remained a challenge. Here we report phylogenetic analyses of combined data--from morphology and from four genes--for 35 representatives from all the main lineages of land plants. We show that there are three monophyletic groups of extant vascular plants: (1) lycophytes, (2) seed plants and (3) a clade including equisetophytes (horsetails), psilotophytes (whisk ferns) and all eusporangiate and leptosporangiate ferns. Our maximum-likelihood analysis shows unambiguously that horsetails and ferns together are the closest relatives to seed plants. This refutes the prevailing view that horsetails and ferns are transitional evolutionary grades between bryophytes and seed plants, and has important implications for our understanding of the development and evolution of plants.
We describe and illustrate Metaxya lanosa, the second known species in the genus and the fern family Metaxyaceae (Pteridophyta). It is currently known from four different watersheds in Amazonian Peru and Venezuela. It can be distinguished readily from M. rostrata by the noticeably woolly-hairy stipes and rachises (hairs red-brown or orange-brown and easily abraded), broader, more elliptic pinnae, cartilaginous and whitish pinna margins, more distinct veins abaxially, and longer pinna stalks, especially on the distal pinnae, rbcL data from a very limited sampling are ambiguous but do not reject support for the recognition of at least two species within Metaxya.
A new species provisionally assigned to the extant genus Regnellidium Lindm. (Regnellidium upatoiensis sp. nov.) is established for isolated sporocarps assignable to the heterosporous water fern family Marsileaceae. Three sporocarps and hundreds of dispersed megaspores were recovered from unconsolidated clays and silts of the Eutaw Formation (Santonian, Late Cretaceous) along Upatoi Creek, Georgia, U.S.A. The sporocarps are ellipsoidal and flattened, contain both megasporangia and microsporangia, and possess a two-layered wall - an outer sclerenchymatous layer and an inner parenchymatous layer. In situ megaspores are spheroidal, with two distinct wall layers - an exine, differentiated into two layers, and an outer ornamented perine also differentiated into two layers. The megaspores also possess an acrolamella consisting of six (five to seven) triangular lobes that are twisted. In situ microspores are trilete and spheroidal, with a strongly rugulate perine, and show modification of the perine over the laesura to form an acrolamella. Comparison of the fossil sporocarps with those of four extant species of Marsileaceae reveal marked similarity with Regnellidium diphyllum Lindm., particularly in megaspore and microspore morphology. If found dispersed, the in situ megaspores would be assigned to Molaspora lobata (Dijkstra) Hall and the microspores to Crybelosporites Dettmann based on their size, shape, and ornamentation. Regnellidium upatoiensis sp. nov. extends the stratigraphic range of the genus back to the Santonian, nearly contemporaneous with the first evidence of Marsilea, and implies that the diversification of the Marsileaceae into its extant lineages occurred in the mid-Cretaceous.
Recent phylogenetic studies have provided compelling evidence that confirms the once disputed hypothesis of monophyly for heterosporous leptosporangiate ferns (Marsileaceae and Salviniaceae). Hypotheses for relationships among the three genera of Marsileaceae (Marsilea, Regnellidium, and Pilularia), however, have continued to be in conflict. The phylogeny of Marsileaceae is investigated here using information from morphology and rbcL sequence data. In addition, relationships among all heterosporous ferns, including the whole-plant fossil Hydropteris pinnata are reconsidered. Data sets of 71 morphological and 1239 rbcL characters for 23 leptosporangiate ferns, including eight heterosporous ingroup taxa and 15 homosporous outgroup taxa, were subjected to maximum parsimony analysis. Morphological analyses were carried out both with and without the fossil Hydropteris, and it was excluded from all analyses with rbcL data. An annotated list of the 71 morphological characters is provided in the appendix. For comparative purposes, the Rothwell and Stockey (1994) data set was also reanalyzed here. The best estimate of phylogenetic relationships for Marsileaceae in all analyses is that Pilularia and Regnellidium are sister taxa and Marsilea is sister to that clade. Morphological synapomorphies for various nodes are discussed. Analyses that included Hydropteris resulted in two most-parsimonious trees that differ only in the placement of the fossil. One topology is identical to the relationship found by Rothwell and Stockey (1994), placing the fossil sister to the Azolla plus Salvinia clade. The alternative topology places Hydropteris as the most basal member of the heterosporous fern clade. Equivocal interpretations for character evolution in heterosporous ferns are discussed in the context of these two most-parsimonious trees. Because of the observed degree of character ambiguity, the phylogenetic placement of Hydropteris is best viewed as unresolved, and recognition of the suborder Hydropteridineae, as circumscribed by Rothwell and Stockey (1994), is regarded as premature. The two competing hypotheses of relationships for heterosporous ferns are also compared with the known temporal distribution of relevant taxa. Stratigraphic fit of the phylogenetic estimates is measured by using the Stratigraphic Consistency Index and by comparison with minimum divergence times.
Small subunit rRNA sequence data were generated for 27 strains of cyanobacteria and incorporated into a phylogenetic analysis of 1,377 aligned sequence positions from a diverse sampling of 53 cyanobacteria and 10 photosynthetic plastids. Tree inference was carried out using a maximum likelihood method with correction for site-to-site variation in evolutionary rate. Confidence in the inferred phylogenetic relationships was determined by construction of a majority-rule consensus tree based on alternative topologies not considered to be statistically significantly different from the optimal tree. The results are in agreement with earlier studies in the assignment of individual taxa to specific sequence groups. Several relationships not previously noted among sequence groups are indicated, whereas other relationships previously supported are contradicted. All plastids cluster as a strongly supported monophyletic group arising near the root of the cyanobacterial line of descent.
**Site awards: Selection for the Scout Report for Science & Engineering, November 24, 1999 and HMS Beagle’s “Web Pick of the Day”, December 17, 1999
Nucleotide sequences from rbcL were used to infer relationships of Lophosoriaceae and Hymenophyllopsidaceae. The phylogenetic positions of these two monotypic fern families have been debated, and neither group had been included in recent molecular systematic studies of ferns. Maximum parsimony analysis of our data supported a sister relationship between Lophosoria and Dicksonia, and also between Hymenophyllopsis and Cyathea. Thus, both newly-examined families appear to be part of a previously characterized and well-supported clade of tree ferns. The inferred relationships of Lophosoria are consistent with most (but not all) recent treatments. However, Hymenophyllopsis includes only small delicate plants superficially similar to filmy ferns (Hymenophyllaceae), very different from the large arborescent taxa. Nevertheless, some synapomorphic characteristics are shared with the tree fern clade. Further studies on gametophytes of Hymenophyllopsis are needed to test these hypotheses of relationship.
The Tree of Life: A distributed Internet project containing information about phylogeny and biodiversity.
The Tree of Life: A distributed Internet project containing information about phylogeny and biodiversity.
Four species and 2 varieties of these native woodland umbellifers are recognized. A key to the taxa, comparative descriptions of diagnostic characters, and notes on the taxonomy, distribution, habitat, and rare status are provided. Eastern Canadian dot maps and North American range maps are included for each taxon. -from Authors
The giant African snail, Achatina fulica, followed trails made with the mucus of A. fulica, but did not follow those consisting of mucus from Otala vermiculata. In olfactometer experiments, A. fulica and Helix aperta oriented preferentially toward the odor of their own species when both odors were presented simultaneously. Species specificity was less pronounced when the odor of O. vermiculata was paired with either of the other two snail odors. Sexually mature A. fulica that had been housed individually for 30 days prior to testing followed mucus trails better than did similar snails housed collectively. Immature A. fulica did not follow trails better after isolation, but showed a facilitative effect of isolation on conspecific orientation in the olfactometer. Three-week-old snails, maintained in individual containers from the time of hatching, also oriented preferentially toward conspecific odors. © 1978 Academic Press, Inc.
Ferns are well known for their shade-dwelling habits. Their ability to thrive under low-light conditions has been linked to the evolution of a novel chimeric photoreceptor--neochrome--that fuses red-sensing phytochrome and blue-sensing phototropin modules into a single gene, thereby optimizing phototropic responses. Despite being implicated in facilitating the diversification of modern ferns, the origin of neochrome has remained a mystery. We present evidence for neochrome in hornworts (a bryophyte lineage) and demonstrate that ferns acquired neochrome from hornworts via horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Fern neochromes are nested within hornwort neochromes in our large-scale phylogenetic reconstructions of phototropin and phytochrome gene families. Divergence date estimates further support the HGT hypothesis, with fern and hornwort neochromes diverging 179 Mya, long after the split between the two plant lineages (at least 400 Mya). By analyzing the draft genome of the hornwort Anthoceros punctatus, we also discovered a previously unidentified phototropin gene that likely represents the ancestral lineage of the neochrome phototropin module. Thus, a neochrome originating in hornworts was transferred horizontally to ferns, where it may have played a significant role in the diversification of modern ferns.
This study addresses reported discrepancies regarding the occurrence of Polypodium calirhiza in Mexico. The original paper describing this taxon cited collections from Mexico, but the species was omitted from the recent Pteridophytes of Mexico. Originally treated as a tetraploid cytotype of P. californicum, P. calirhiza now is hypothesized to have arisen through hybridization between P. glycyrrhiza and P. californicum. The tetraploid can be difficult to distinguish from either of its putative parents, but especially so from P. californicum. Our analyses show that a combination of spore length and abaxial rachis scale morphology consistently distinguishes P. calirhiza from P. californicum, and we confirm that both species occur in Mexico. Although occasionally found growing together in the United States, the two species are strongly allopatric in Mexico: P. californicum is restricted to coastal regions of the Baja California peninsula and neighboring Pacific islands, whereas P. calirhiza grows at high elevations in central and southern Mexico. The occurrence of P. calirhiza in Oaxaca, Mexico, marks the southernmost extent of the P. vulgare complex in the Western Hemisphere. © 2014 The New York Botanical Garden.
© Cambridge University Press 2008 and Cambridge University Press 2009. Introduction As a consequence of employing DNA sequence data and phylogenetic approaches, unprecedented progress has been made in recent years toward a full understanding of the fern tree of life. At the broadest level, molecular phylogenetic analyses have helped to elucidate which of the so-called “fern allies” are indeed ferns, and which are only distantly related (Nickrent et al., 2000; Pryer et al., 2001a; Wikström and Pryer, 2005; Qiu et al., 2006). Slightly more focused analyses have revealed the composition of, and relationships among, the major extant fern clades (Hasebe et al., 1995; Wolf, 1997; Pryer et al., 2004b; Schneider et al., 2004c; Schuettpelz et al., 2006; Schuettpelz and Pryer, 2007). A plethora of analyses, at an even finer scale, has uncovered some of the most detailed associations (numerous references cited below). Together, these studies have helped to answer many long-standing questions in fern systematics. In this chapter, a brief synopsis of vascular plant relationships - as currently understood - is initially provided to place ferns within a broader phylogenetic framework. This is followed by an overview of fern phylogeny, with most attention devoted to the leptosporangiate clade that accounts for the bulk of extant fern diversity. Discussion of finer scale relationships is generally avoided; instead, the reader is directed to the relevant literature, where more detailed information can be found.
© Cambridge University Press 2008 and Cambridge University Press 2009. Introduction and historical summary Over the past 70 years, many fern classifications, nearly all based on morphology, most explicitly or implicitly phylogenetic, have been proposed. The most complete and commonly used classifications, some intended primarily as herbarium (filing) schemes, are summarized in Table 16.1, and include: Christensen (1938), Copeland (1947), Holttum (1947, 1949), Nayar (1970), Bierhorst (1971), Crabbe et al. (1975), Pichi Sermolli (1977), Ching (1978), Tryon and Tryon (1982), Kramer (in Kubitzki, 1990), Hennipman (1996), and Stevenson and Loconte (1996). Other classifications or trees implying relationships, some with a regional focus, include Bower (1926), Ching (1940), Dickason (1946), Wagner (1969), Tagawa and Iwatsuki (1972), Holttum (1973), and M.ckel (1974). Tryon (1952) and Pichi Sermolli (1973) reviewed and reproduced many of these and still earlier classifications, and Pichi Sermolli (1970, 1981, 1982, 1986) also summarized information on family names of ferns. Smith (1996) provided a summary and discussion of recent classifications. With the advent of cladistic methods and molecular sequencing techniques, there has been an increased interest in classifications reflecting evolutionary relationships. Phylogenetic studies robustly support a basal dichotomy within vascular plants, separating the lycophytes (less than 1% of extant vascular plants) from the euphyllophytes (Figure 16.1; Raubeson and Jansen, 1992, Kenrick and Crane, 1997; Pryer et al., 2001a, 2004a, 2004b; Qiu et al., 2006). Living euphyllophytes, in turn, comprise two major clades: spermatophytes (seed plants), which are in excess of 260000 species (Thorne, 2002; Scotland and Wortley, 2003), and ferns (sensu Pryer et al. 2004b), with about 9000 species, including horsetails, whisk ferns, and all eusporangiate and leptosporangiate ferns.
Invited symposium contribution: Fern phylogeny with an emphasis on relationships of basal lineages.
Invited symposium contribution: Fern phylogeny with an emphasis on relationships of basal lineages.
This poster presentation received an award from the Pteridological Section of the Botanical Society of America.
Invited symposium contribution to The Society of Protozoologists: Recent developments in chloroplast and mitochondrial evolution.
Invited symposium contribution: Relationships and fossil history of ferns
Invited symposium contribution: Relationships and fossil history of ferns.
This presentation was the focus of a review by Chasen, R. 1996. “The advantages of being juvenile.” Bioscience 46: 804-806
Invited symposium contribution: Use of molecular data in evolutionary studies of Pteridophytes
Invited symposium contribution: Use of molecular data in evolutionary studies of Pteridophytes.
Received the Edgar T. Wherry award for this presentation.