Molecular systematics of Meconopsis Vig. (Papaveraceae): taxonomy, polyploidy evolution, and historical biogeography from a phylogenetic insight
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Known as the Himalayan poppies or the blue poppies, Meconopsis is a genus with approximately 50 species distributed through the high altitude of the Himalaya and the Hengduan Mountains (SW China). This dissertation is a study of the systematics of Meconopsis primarily using molecular phylogenetic methods. DNA sequences of chloroplast matK, ndhF, trnL-trnF, rbcL, and nuclear ITS were collected to reconstruct the phylogenies of the genus. Results showed that traditional Meconopsis is a polyphyletic group and revealed extensive mismatches between the nuclear ITS tree and the chloroplast tree. Based on the phylogenies, the taxonomy of Meconopsis was revised, making Meconopsis monophyletic. Four new sections (sect. Meconopsis, sect. Aculeatae, sect. Primulinae, and sect. Grandes) were proposed as well as a species complex (M. horridula). The chloroplast phylogeny and a likelihood method (chromEvol) were applied to ancestral chromosome number estimation to reconstruct the polyploidy evolution history of the genus. The analysis recovered an ancient triploid ancestor shared by sect. Primulinae and sect. Grandes. A low-copy nuclear gene (GAPDH) network of Meconopsis was further reconstructed, which indicated that the ancient triploid ancestor was formed by hybridization. A hypothesis of reticulate history of Meconopsis was also proposed based on the GAPDH network. Using a reconstructed rbcL phylogeny of Ranunculales, the stem group of Meconopsis was estimated at ca. 22 Mya by molecular dating, which coincided with the time of Asian interior desertification and the onset of Asian monsoon. These climatic changes could possibly have been the impetus for the split between Meconopsis and its sister clade. Ancestral area reconstruction was further conducted using likelihood-based methods. The result indicated that Meconopsis originated in the Himalaya, most likely in the west Himalaya, followed by migration to the Hengduan Mountains.