Casearia (Salicaceae) is a pantropical genus of circa 200 species, around half of which dwell in the Neotropics. Despite the availability of phylogenetic studies that suggest that Casearia sensu Sleumer is not monophyletic, a strong phylogenetic framework was still lacking for this genus. We tested the monophyly of Casearia and examined the relationships of its species to other taxa of the tribe Samydeae, including Laetia, Samyda and Zuelania, which recently have been sunk into Casearia, as well as Euceraea, Lunania, Neoptychocarpus, Ryania and Tetrathylacium. We further put a focus on the Neotropical taxa since Casearia and allies are speciose both on the Caribbean islands and adjacent mainlands, thus providing an interesting group to address the origin of the Caribbean and Cuban flora. Our phylogenetic analyses based on four combined rapidly evolving plastid regions (petD, rpl16, rps4-trnT-L-F, trnK-matK-psbA) as well as nuclear ITS revealed Casearia as monophyletic with high support, including not only the former members of Laetia, Samyda and Zuelania but also Euceraea and Neoptychocarpus. Casearia is constituted by several major clades, mostly being entirely Neotropical, one of which exclusively comprises species endemic to the Caribbean islands. Another clade, which includes all Palaeotropical species, is nested among Neotropical lineages. Our divergence date estimates using the plastid dataset and fossil calibration points in Salicaceae indicate that the Casearia crown group started to diversify during the late Eocene, approximately 39 Ma. The stem of the Old World clade diverged from Neotropical ancestors around 27 Ma, in the Oligocene. We used BayesTraits to reconstruct the evolution of seven characters commonly used to define Casearia and allied genera. We found morphological characters, such as branched inflorescences (fasciculate, glomerulous, cymose) or uniseriate stamen series, that work well to circumscribe the genus, whereas dioecy, which was used to diagnose Neoptychocarpus, or higher stamen numbers (>12), found in Laetia and Zuelania, are homoplastic in Salicaceae, the latter character derived within Casearia from ancestors with 7–12 stamens. Pellucid dots appear to have evolved earlier than the divergence of the Casearia clade in Samydeae, and were lost in Ryania and Tetrathylacium, and thus are no synapomorphy for Casearia. In order to establish a monophyletic genus concept for Casearia, we propose to also merge Euceraea and Neoptychocarpus. Our reconstruction of ancestral areas using BioGeoBears indicate that South America is the ancestral area of Casearia. From there, multiple migrations occurred to Mesoamerica and the Caribbean islands. The Caribbean that comprises nearly all Caribbean endemics started to diversify around 9.5 Ma. Our trees depict C. corymbosa, which exhibits significant infraspecific phylogenetic structure for the sampled Mexican and Colombian individuals, as the sister to the Caribbean clade. The other clade, with Cuban endemics (C. ternstroemioides) but also Mesoamerican and South American taxa, is not sufficiently resolved internally, to allow biogeographic conclusions. The Old World clade of Casearia provides another example for a late Laurasian migration starting in the Neotropics.
ancestral area reconstruction
ancestral character state reconstruction
500 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik::580 Pflanzen (Botanik)::580 Pflanzen (Botanik)
Character evolution and biogeography of Casearia (Salicaceae): Evidence for the South American origin of a pantropical genus and for multiple migrations to the Caribbean islands
Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem (BGBM)
Biologie, Chemie, Pharmazie
Institut für Biologie