In situ morphometric survey elucidates the evolutionary systematics of the Eurasian Himantoglossum clade (Orchidaceae: Orchidinae)

Bateman, R.M. and Molnár, V. Attila and Sramkó, Gábor (2017) In situ morphometric survey elucidates the evolutionary systematics of the Eurasian Himantoglossum clade (Orchidaceae: Orchidinae). PEERJ, 5. ISSN 2167-8359


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Background and Aims The charismatic Himantoglossum s.l. clade of Eurasian orchids contains an unusually large proportion of taxa that are of controversial circumscriptions and considerable conservation concern. Whereas our previously published study addressed the molecular phylogenetics and phylogeography of every named taxon within the clade, here we use detailed morphometric data obtained from the same populations to compare genotypes with associated phenotypes, in order to better explore taxonomic circumscription and character evolution within the clade. Methods Between one and 12 plants found in 25 populations that encompassed the entire distribution of the Himantoglossum s.l. clade were measured in situ for 51 morphological characters. Results for 45 of those characters were subjected to detailed multivariate and univariate analyses. Key Results Multivariate analyses readily separate subgenus Barlia and subgenus Comperia from subgenus Himantoglossum, and also the early-divergent H. formosum from the less divergent remainder of subgenus Himantoglossum. The sequence of divergence of these four lineages is confidently resolved. Our experimental approach to morphometric character analysis demonstrates clearly that phenotypic evolution within Himantoglossum is unusually multi-dimensional. Conclusions Degrees of divergence between taxa shown by morphological analyses approximate those previously shown using molecular analyses. Himantoglossum s.l. is readily divisible into three subgenera. The three sections of subgenus Himantoglossum—hircinum, caprinum and formosum—are arrayed from west to east with only limited geographical overlap. At this taxonomic level, their juxtaposition combines with conflict between contrasting datasets to complicate attempts to distinguish between clinal variation and the discontinuities that by definition separate bona fide species. All taxa achieve allogamy via food deceit and have only weak pollinator specificity. Artificial crossing demonstrates that intrinsic sterility barriers are weak. Although we have found evidence of gene flow among and within the three sections of subgenus Himantoglossum, reports of natural hybrids are surprisingly rare, probably because putative parents are sufficiently similar to questionably warrant the status of species. Phenological separation and increased xeromorphy characterise the origin of subgenus Barlia. Several individual morphological characters show evidence of parallel acquisition, and loss of features is especially frequent in floral markings among members of section caprinum. Detailed patterns of gain and loss demonstrate that several different categories of flower markings are inherited independently. Along with the dimensions of labellar lobes, these pigmentation characters have been over-emphasised in previous taxonomic treatments. Increased plant vigour was a crucial element of the origin of the genus, but vegetative characters underwent remarkably little subsequent evolution. Attempts to reconstruct hypothetical ancestors at internal nodes of the phylogeny are weakened by (a) uncertain placement of Steveniella as sister to Himantoglossum s.l. and (b) uncertain relationships among subtly different putative species within section caprinum. Nonetheless, heterochronic/allometric trends, ultimately limited by functional constraints, clearly dictate transitions between contrasting flower sizes and complex labellum shapes.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science / természettudomány > QK Botany / növénytan > QK50 Plant geography (phytogeography) / növényföldrajz
Depositing User: MTMT SWORD
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2017 15:13
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2017 15:13

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