Evolutionary relationships, interisland biogeography, and molecular evolution in the Hawaiian violets (Viola: Violaceae)

American Journal of Botany
J Christopher HavranHarvey E Ballard

Abstract

The endemic Hawaiian flora offers remarkable opportunities to study the patterns of plant morphological and molecular evolution. The Hawaiian violets are a monophyletic lineage of nine taxa distributed across six main islands of the Hawaiian archipelago. To describe the evolutionary relationships, biogeography, and molecular evolution rates of the Hawaiian violets, we conducted a phylogenetic study using nuclear rDNA internal transcribed spacer sequences from specimens of each species. Parsimony, maximum likelihood (ML), and Bayesian inference reconstructions of island colonization and radiation strongly suggest that the Hawaiian violets first colonized the Maui Nui Complex, quickly radiated to Kaua'i and O'ahu, and recently dispersed to Hawai'i. The lineage consists of "wet" and "dry" clades restricted to distinct precipitation regimes. The ML and Bayesian inference reconstructions of shifts in habitat, habit, and leaf shape indicate that ecologically analogous taxa have undergone parallel evolution in leaf morphology and habit. This parallel evolution correlates with shifts to specialized habitats. Relative rate tests showed that woody and herbaceous sister species possess equal molecular evolution rates. The incongruity of m...Continue Reading

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Related Concepts

Science of Morphology
DNA, Ribosomal
Recombinant DNA
Viola
Evolution, Molecular
Violaceae
Viola <angiosperm>

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