Comparative phylogeography of red maple (Acer rubrum L.) and silver maple (Acer saccharinum L.): impacts of habitat specialization, hybridization and glacial history

TitleComparative phylogeography of red maple (Acer rubrum L.) and silver maple (Acer saccharinum L.): impacts of habitat specialization, hybridization and glacial history
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsSaeki I, Dick C.W, Barnes BVerne, Murakami N
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Pagination992 - 1005
Date Published05/2011

Aim  We analysed variation in chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) in red maple (Acer rubrum L.) and silver maple (Acer saccharinum L.) across a large part of their geographic ranges. Acer rubrum is one of the most common and morphologically variable deciduous trees of eastern North America, while its sister species A. saccharinum has a more restricted habitat distribution and displays markedly less morphological variation. Our objective was to infer the impact of biogeographic history on cpDNA diversity and phylogeographic structure in both species. Location  Deciduous forests of eastern North America. Methods  We sequenced 1289 to 1645 bp of non-coding cpDNA from A. rubrum (n = 258) and A. saccharinum (n = 83). Maximum parsimony networks and spatial analysis of molecular variance (SAMOVA) were used to analyse phylogeographic structure. Rarefaction analyses were used to compare genetic diversity. Results  A total of 40 cpDNA haplotypes were recovered from A. rubrum (38 haplotypes) and A. saccharinum (7 haplotypes). Five of the seven A. saccharinum haplotypes were shared with nearby samples of A. rubrum. SAMOVA recovered four phylogeographic groups for A. rubrum in: (1) south-eastern USA, (2) the Gulf and south-eastern Coastal Plain, (3) the lower Mississippi River Valley, and (4) the central and northern regions of eastern North America. Acer saccharinum had significantly lower haplotype diversity than A. rubrum, and novel haplotypes in post-glaciated northern limits of its range were shared with A. rubrum. Main conclusions  This is the first study of A. rubrum to report a distinct phylogeographic group centred on the lower Mississippi River, and the first to examine data comparatively with A. saccharinum. We hypothesized that A. rubrum would display stronger phylogeographic structure and greater haplotype diversity than A. saccharinum because of its greater geographic range, and ecological and morphological variation. This hypothesis was supported by the cpDNA analysis. The sharing of cpDNA and chloroplast simple sequence repeat (cpSSR) haplotypes in areas of geographic overlap provides evidence of introgression, which led to an increase in haplotype diversity in both species, and to novel phylogeographic structure in A. rubrum. We recommend that introgression be considered, along with other potential causes, as an explanation for the phylogeographic structure of cpDNA in plants.