Phylogeny, biogeography and taxonomic reassessment of Multifurca (Russulaceae, Russulales) using three-locus data

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Multifurca is a small genus newly established to accommodate lactarioid and russuloid species with some characters reminiscent of corticoid members of Russulaceae. It shows an amphi-pacific distribution with strong preference for the tropical zone of the Northern Hemisphere and thus has particular significance for biogeographical study. Using worldwide samples and three loci (ITS, 28S rDNA and rpb2), we demonstrated that Multifurca is split into two highly supported major clades that are here recognized at the subgeneric level: subg. Furcata subg. nov. exclusively includes lactarioid species, while subg. Multifurca includes species with a russuloid habit. Using phylogenetic species recognition and comparison of genetic distances we recognize five new and six previously described species, almost double the known number of species before this study. Molecular dating using a Bayesian method suggested that Multifurca originated in early Paleocene and diversified in the Eocene. The most recent interspecific divergences occurred both in Asia and America, roughly at the same time around the Pliocene. Ancestral area reconstruction and comparisons of genetic distances and morphology suggested an early divergence within Australasia or tropical Asia. From the early Miocene to Pliocene, multiple dispersals/migrations to Australasia and North America by island hopping or land bridge likely happened. Vicariance at the late Tertiary might be the most likely mechanism accounting for the eastern Asia- southeastern North America and Australasia-tropical Asia disjunct distributions. The shared polymorphisms in the ITS alignment, numerous degenerated base pairs in the rpb2 sequences and weak conflict between the ITS and LSU genealogies of M. subg. Furcata suggest recent speciation. Host specificity of Multifurca species or species pairs is relatively low. Host shifts are believed to have aided establishment in new territories during the dispersals and migrations.




Wang, X. H., Halling, R. E., Hofstetter, V., Lebel, T., & Buyck, B. (2018). Phylogeny, biogeography and taxonomic reassessment of Multifurca (Russulaceae, Russulales) using three-locus data. PLoS ONE, 13(11).

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