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Open Access Research article

Evolution of the intercontinental disjunctions in six continents in the Ampelopsis clade of the grape family (Vitaceae)

Ze-Long Nie15, Hang Sun1, Steven R Manchester2, Ying Meng13, Quentin Luke4 and Jun Wen5*

Author affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan 650204, China

2 Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA

3 Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research at Kunming, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan 650204, China

4 East African Herbarium, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi 00502, Kenya

5 Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, MRC 166, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2012, 12:17  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-12-17

Published: 8 February 2012

Abstract

Background

The Ampelopsis clade (Ampelopsis and its close allies) of the grape family Vitaceae contains ca. 43 species disjunctly distributed in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Australia, and is a rare example to study both the Northern and the Southern Hemisphere intercontinental disjunctions. We reconstruct the temporal and spatial diversification of the Ampelopsis clade to explore the evolutionary processes that have resulted in their intercontinental disjunctions in six continents.

Results

The Bayesian molecular clock dating and the likelihood ancestral area analyses suggest that the Ampelopsis clade most likely originated in North America with its crown group dated at 41.2 Ma (95% HPD 23.4 - 61.0 Ma) in the middle Eocene. Two independent Laurasian migrations into Eurasia are inferred to have occurred in the early Miocene via the North Atlantic land bridges. The ancestor of the Southern Hemisphere lineage migrated from North America to South America in the early Oligocene. The Gondwanan-like pattern of intercontinental disjunction is best explained by two long-distance dispersals: once from South America to Africa estimated at 30.5 Ma (95% HPD 16.9 - 45.9 Ma), and the other from South America to Australia dated to 19.2 Ma (95% HPD 6.7 - 22.3 Ma).

Conclusions

The global disjunctions in the Ampelopsis clade are best explained by a diversification model of North American origin, two Laurasian migrations, one migration into South America, and two post-Gondwanan long-distance dispersals. These findings highlight the importance of both vicariance and long distance dispersal in shaping intercontinental disjunctions of flowering plants.