Genetic diversity of mountain plants: Two migration episodes of Mediterranean Erodium (Geraniaceae)

Marisa Alarcón, Pablo Vargas, Llorenç Sáez, Julià Molero, Juan José Aldasoro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the phylogeny of Erodium subsect. Petraea, a group of six morphologically and genetically very similar species from the mountains of the western Mediterranean. Combined trnL-F-ITS analysis was unable to determine the phylogenetic relationships of these species owing to sequence similarity. AFLP fragment analysis showed different populations to cluster in six closely related phylogroups that partially coincided with morphological species. In the Iberian Peninsula, high temperatures during interstadial periods probably impeded the survival of these species at low altitudes, and their populations may have been forced to migrate northward within Iberia or remain isolated on high mountains. AFLP variation suggests that this might have led to their differentiation into groups and speciation during interglacials, but it probably also provided the basis for recurrent recolonisations and the mixing of neighbouring populations at the last glacial maxima. The genetic diversity of the two Erodium lineages suggests two migration episodes took place from southern Iberia towards the north, with one lineage migrating via western Iberia and the other via eastern Iberia. The patterns of genetic diversity observed in populations of 56 European species (27 genera) leads to the hypothesis that disparate proportions of unique polymorphic fragments are the result of the evolutionary histories of their mountain populations irrespective of the currently recognised species. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)866-876
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012


  • Gene flow
  • Interglacial migrations
  • Isolation by distance
  • Phylogeography
  • Private fragments
  • Reproductive isolation


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