© 2019 Elsevier Inc. Saussurea is one of the largest genera of the tribe Cardueae of Asteraceae, comprising about 460 species from the Northern Hemisphere with most species distributed in QTPss and adjacent areas. Here, we established a well-supported phylogenetic framework for Saussurea based on whole chloroplast genomes of 136 taxa plus 16 additional taxa of Cardueae using Bayesian inference and Maximum Likelihood. Our phylogenetic results are inconsistent with previous subgeneric classifications of Saussurea. We nearly completely delimited subgen. Eriocoryne, and found that subgen. Theodorea, subgen. Saussurea section Laguranthera and Rosulascentes are closely related to each other. Based on our phylogenetic results, we performed biogeographic analyses and inferred that the genus Saussurea arose during early-middle Miocene within the Hengduan Mountains. We expect that landscape heterogeneity within the QTPss and adjacent areas, such as the Hengduan Mountains, played an important role in the evolution of Saussurea. Following its evolutionary origin, the genus underwent rapid diversification in situs and dispersed northwards in several migrational patterns. Both continuous uplift of the QTPss and adjacent areas as well as global cooling since mid-Miocene probably led to geographic expansion and diffusion of Saussurea, with the latter, in particular, resulting in the northward dispersal.
- Chloroplast genome