Are diversification rates and chromosome evolution in the temperate grasses (Pooideae) associated with major environmental changes in the Oligocene-Miocene?

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Abstract

The Pooideae are a highly diverse C3 grass subfamily that includes some of the most economically important crops, nested within the highly speciose core-pooid clade. Here, we build and explore the phylogeny of the Pooideae within a temporal framework, assessing its patterns of diversification and its chromosomal evolutionary changes in the light of past environmental transformations. We sequenced five plastid DNA loci, two coding (ndhF, matk) and three non-coding (trnH-psbA, trnT-L and trnL-F), in 163 Poaceae taxa, including representatives for all subfamilies of the grasses and all but four ingroup Pooideae tribes. Parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses were conducted and divergence times were inferred in BEAST using a relaxed molecular clock. Diversification rates were assessed using the MEDUSA approach, and chromosome evolution was analyzed using the chromEvol software. Diversification of the Pooideae started in the Late-Eocene and was especially intense during the Oligocene- Miocene. The background diversification rate increased significantly at the time of the origin of the Poodae + Triticodae clade. This shift in diversification occurred in a context of falling temperatures that potentially increased ecological opportunities for grasses adapted to open areas around the world. The base haploid chromosome number nD7 has remained stable throughout the phylogenetic history of the core pooids and we found no link between chromosome transitions and major diversification events in the Pooideae.

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Pimentel, M., Escudero, M., Sahuquillo, E., Minaya, M. Á., & Catalán, P. (2017). Are diversification rates and chromosome evolution in the temperate grasses (Pooideae) associated with major environmental changes in the Oligocene-Miocene? PeerJ, 2017(9). https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3815

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