Newly resolved relationships in an early land plant lineage: Bryophyta class Sphagnopsida (peat mosses).


UNLABELLED: PREMISE OF THE STUDY: The Sphagnopsida, an early-diverging lineage of mosses (phylum Bryophyta), are morphologically and ecologically unique and have profound impacts on global climate. The Sphagnopsida are currently classified in two genera, Sphagnum (peat mosses) with some 350-500 species and Ambuchanania with one species. An analysis of phylogenetic relationships among species and genera in the Sphagnopsida were conducted to resolve major lineages and relationships among species within the Sphagnopsida. • METHODS: Phylogenetic analyses of nucleotide sequences from the nuclear, plastid, and mitochondrial genomes (11 704 nucleotides total) were conducted and analyzed using maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference employing seven different substitution models of varying complexity. • KEY RESULTS: Phylogenetic analyses resolved three lineages within the Sphagnopsida: (1) Sphagnum sericeum, (2) S. inretortum plus Ambuchanania leucobryoides, and (3) all remaining species of Sphagnum. Sister group relationships among these three clades could not be resolved, but the phylogenetic results indicate that the highly divergent morphology of A. leucobryoides is derived within the Sphagnopsida rather than plesiomorphic. A new classification is proposed for class Sphagnopsida, with one order (Sphagnales), three families, and four genera. • CONCLUSIONS: The Sphagnopsida are an old lineage within the phylum Bryophyta, but the extant species of Sphagnum represent a relatively recent radiation. It is likely that additional species critical to understanding the evolution of peat mosses await discovery, especially in the southern hemisphere.






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Publication Info

Shaw, A Jonathan, Cymon J Cox, William R Buck, Nicolas Devos, Alex M Buchanan, Lynette Cave, Rodney Seppelt, Blanka Shaw, et al. (2010). Newly resolved relationships in an early land plant lineage: Bryophyta class Sphagnopsida (peat mosses). Am J Bot, 97(9). pp. 1511–1531. 10.3732/ajb.1000055 Retrieved from

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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.


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.

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