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Evidence of transoceanic dispersion of the genus Vanilla based on plastid DNA phylogenetic analysis

Bouétard A., Lefeuvre P., Gigant R., Bory S., Pignal M., Besse P., Grisoni M.. 2010. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 55 (2) : p. 621-630.

The phylogeny and the biogeographical history of the genus Vanilla was investigated using four chloroplastic genes (psbB, psbC; psaB and rbcL), on 47 accessions of Vanilla chosen from the ex situ CIRAD collection maintained in Reunion Island and additional sequences from GenBank. Bayesian methods provided a fairly well supported reconstruction of the phylogeny of the Vanilloideae sub-family and more particularly of the genus Vanilla. Three major phylogenetic groups in the genus Vanilla were differentiated, which is in disagreement with the actual classification in two sections (Foliosae and Aphyllae) based on morphological traits. Recent Bayesian relaxed molecular clock methods allowed to test the two main hypotheses of the phylogeography of the genus Vanilla. Early radiation of the Vanilla genus and diversification by vicariance consecutive to the break-up of Gondwana, 95 million years ago (Mya), was incompatible with the admitted age of origin of Angiosperm. Based on the Vanilloideae age recently estimated to 71 million years ago (Mya), we conclude that the genus Vanilla would have appeared (circa) 34 Mya in South America, when continents were already separated. Nevertheless, whatever the two extreme scenarios tested, at least three long distance migration events are needed to explain the present distribution of Vanilla species in tropical areas. These transoceanic dispersions could have occurred via transoceanic passageway such as the Rio Grande Ridge and the involvement of floating vegetation mats and migratory birds. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : vanilla; réunion

Thématique : Génétique et amélioration des plantes; Taxonomie végétale et phyto-géographie

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