DNA barcoding is emerging as a useful tool not only for species identification but for studying evolutionary and ecological processes. Although plant DNA barcodes do not always provide species-level resolution, the generation of large DNA barcode datasets can provide insights into the mechanisms underlying the generation of species diversity. Here, we study evolutionary processes in taxonomically complex British Euphrasia (Orobanchaceae), a group with multiple ploidy levels, frequent self-fertilization, young species divergence and widespread hybridisation. We use a phylogenetic approach to investigate the colonisation history of British Euphrasia, followed by a DNA barcoding survey and population genetic analyses to reveal the causes of shared sequence variation. Phylogenetic analysis shows Euphrasia have colonised Britain from mainland Europe on multiple occasions. DNA barcoding reveals that no British Euphrasia species has a consistent diagnostic sequence profile, and instead, plastid haplotypes are either widespread across species, or are population specific. The partitioning of nuclear genetic variation suggests differences in ploidy act as a barrier to gene exchange, while the divergence between diploid and tetraploid ITS sequences supports the polyploids being allotetraploid in origin. Overall, these results show that even when lacking species-level resolution, analyses of DNA barcoding data can reveal evolutionary patterns in taxonomically complex genera.
|Early online date||24 Apr 2018|
|Publication status||Published - 01 May 2018|
- british flora
- DNA barcoding
- taxonomic complexity