Morphologically cryptic biological species within the liverwort Frullania asagrayana.


UNLABELLED: PREMISE OF THE STUDY: The Frullania tamarisci complex includes eight Holarctic liverwort species. One of these, F. asagrayana, is distributed broadly throughout eastern North America from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Preliminary genetic data suggested that the species includes two groups of populations. This study was designed to test whether the two groups are reproductively isolated biological species. • METHODS: Eighty-eight samples from across the range of F. asagrayana, plus 73 samples from one population, were genotyped for 13 microsatellite loci. Sequences for two plastid loci and nrITS were obtained from 13 accessions. Genetic data were analyzed using coalescent models and Bayesian inference. • KEY RESULTS: Frullania asagrayana is sequence-invariant at the two plastid loci and ITS2, but two clear groups were resolved by microsatellites. The two groups are largely reproductively isolated, but there is a low level of gene flow from the southern to the northern group. No gene flow was detected in the other direction. A local population was heterogeneous but displayed strong genetic structure. • CONCLUSIONS: The genetic structure of F. asagrayana in eastern North America reflects morphologically cryptic differentiation between reproductively isolated groups of populations, near-panmixis within groups, and clonal propagation at local scales. Reproductive isolation between groups that are invariant at the level of nucleotide sequences shows that caution must be exercised in making taxonomic and evolutionary inferences from reciprocal monophyly (or lack thereof) between putative species.






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Publication Info

Ramaiya, Megan, Matthew G Johnson, Blanka Shaw, Jochen Heinrichs, Jörn Hentschel, Matt von Konrat, Paul G Davison, A Jonathan Shaw, et al. (2010). Morphologically cryptic biological species within the liverwort Frullania asagrayana. Am J Bot, 97(10). pp. 1707–1718. 10.3732/ajb.1000171 Retrieved from

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Blanka Aguero

Data Manager

I work as data manager in Duke University Herbarium. I maintain collections and databases of bryophytes, oversee a databasing project of bryophytes, and assist in training undergraduate and graduate students in bryophyte diversity and herbarium management. I'm an active member of Duke Bryophyte Laboratory where I participate on research in bryophyte systematics. I am interested in bryophyte diversity of montane, alpine and wetland ecosystems. I have extensive field experience in temperate and boreal regions of Europe and North America, with focus mainly on mosses and liverworts. Born and raised in the Czech Republic.


A. Jonathan Shaw

Professor of Biology

My research centers on the evolution and diversity of bryophytes. Current projects in the lab include molecular phylogenetic analyses of familial and ordinal level relationships in the arthrodontous mosses, studies of hybridization using molecular and morphological markers, and investigations of cryptic speciation within geographically widespread species. My own particular focus (as opposed to those of post-docs and graduate students in the lab) at present is the genus Sphagnum (peatmosses). Ongoing research is grounded in phylogenetic analyses at various levels of biological organization from populations up to genus-wide. We utilize DNA sequence data from the nuclear, chloroplast, and mitochondrial genomes to infer historical processes of biodiversification. I have a special interest in the genetic structure of both rare and widespread species. Morphological and molecular information is being used to explore geographic patterns in phylogenetic diversity within the peatmosses. Of particular interest are biogeographic relationships between boreal, tropical, and Southern Hemisphere taxa, and between New and Old World taxa. Our data base presently includes nucleotide sequences from multiple loci representing some 500-600 accessions of peatmosses. Additional information about this ongoing work can be found here.

                The bryology laboratory is engaged in ongoing
                collaborative research projects with the New York
                Botanical Garden, the University of Connecticut, the
                Missouri Botanical Garden, and the University of
                Alberta. Additional information about these 

projects can be found here.

                I serve as Curator of the Bryophyte Herbarium,
                which includes approximately 230,000 collections 

of mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. The collections represent a central resource for bryological research at Duke, and we are actively integrating molecular investigations with field work and collections- based approaches.

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